In Summary

NEW SPACE. Entering a new environment can cause anxiety for children—and their parents

Almost everyone has undergone this level of education with interesting childish memories. Do you still remember yours? At St Cecilia nursery school in Lubaga division there was mixed feelings on Monday January 28, when newcomers reported to the baby class. In company of their mothers with hardly any father sighted around, the children looked smart in their first ever school uniform and carried bags of different colours and shapes.

The happy children
Whereas some pupils looked jolly apparently overwhelmed by starting schooling others put on miserable faces and seemed to hate the whole idea. One joyful parent who identified herself simply as Maama Angela explained the reason behind her daughter’s jolly mood.

“She has always looked forward to start schooling and would feel sad whenever her elder sisters left her at home alone during school hours. As a parent, I feel so excited for her and have no doubt that she will go all the way to the university,” she said.

Excited as well was Melissa Nabatanzi, Payra Nakyejjwe’s mother.

According to the mother, Nakyejjwe was mostly excited by her schoolbag which had a mixture of attractive colours.
“She has always been eager to start schooling and at home has she been demanding for pencils to draw pictures and colour them.”

The sad
On the other hand, some children seemed sad. A parent of one of such children who cried for being left behind in the hands of strangers and above all in an unfamiliar “home” looked a bit disappointed.
“Simon will turn three-and-a half years this February and we could not wait for next year because at four-and-a- half years he will be a bit older for baby class,” she noted. All Simon’s elder sister and two brothers passed through this kindergarten which is a stone’s throw away from their home.

According to Simon’s mother, their first born is now attending Senior Three at Uganda Martyrs High School in Lubaga.
“To teach and get something good out of children below three years indeed is a miracle and for this reason nursery school teachers deserve respect and a better pay,” she suggested. This reminded me of that Luganda nursery rhyme Twajja tuli mbuzi” (meaning, we came with the brains of goats). It partly goes, “But now are grateful to our nursery teachers for educating and transforming us into useful people...”

Indifferent
Soon as his father dropped him off, Nicholas Mwebesa, 4, went running to hug the teacher. When the teacher started talking to his father, the youngster went and sat next to a peer and initiated a conversation.

“What is your name? Who is your daddy?” were the questions one overheard when they got closer to the newfound friends. Thereafter, the teacher parted with his father, Mwebesa bade his father farewell and continued with business as usual. This was one of a kind unlike the rest that cry for their parents to stay.

Reporting time
At this school in Lubaga, it is a tradition for newcomers (Baby Class) to report a week before continuing pupils. About this, the school director and head teacher Bernadette Nayiga, says it is intended to let newcomers adapt to school life without disturbance from continuing pupils.

During this period, newcomers are taught things such as how to feed, interact with others and how use the toilets. This reminded me of a common saying intended to inspire young ones: “Even the big crowing cocks we see today were once eggs before hatching into chicks.”

Tips
• Find out how the school structures its daily schedule. Many preschools begin with a daily ritual, such as “circle time” (when teachers and children talk about what they did the day before, and that day’s activities), to ease the move from home to school.
• Little child toys: They might not be allowed to take their favourite car into the classroom, but they can keep it safely in their backpack.