Preschool teachers on how they deal with toddlers daily

Monday September 2 2019

Maggie Musiime gives toilet paper to one her

Maggie Musiime gives toilet paper to one her pupils seeking to go for a short call. Such is part of her day. PHOTO by Hephzirbar Bukasu 

By Pauline Bangirana

MAGGIE MUSIIME:
I am very patient when dealing with them

Maggie Musiime Nakiyuuka is a Top Class Teacher (Heroes Class) at Quality International School in Kyanja. Her class contains the age group of five to six year olds.
Maggie Musiime Nakiyuuka is a teacher of Top Class at Quality International School in Kyanja, Kampala. Her class is made up of children aged five and six. It is time for Reading when I get to their class. They read after their teacher and I am amazed at how loud they are, perhaps because they see a new person in their class.
Some are holding conversations, others are playing and a few are throwing things at one another (and later reporting to the teacher). How does she tame their stubbornness? She sends the stubborn ones to the naughty corner.
“When I warn them and they do not take heed, I send them out of class or take them to a lower class.” Because most of them do not like being called young, threatening to send them to a lower class keeps their discipline in check. It is as if the children have batteries within their bodies because as soon as she looks away, the chattering, pulling chairs and undefined movements start.
When the children get an exercise to do, the class is quiet but a few minutes later, some are looking at her. She calls for those that have completed their work. But before long, the class is back to murmuring and playing.
As she marks the books, the lunch bell rings and the children cannot hide their excitement however, they have to wait for their turn to go to the dining room. She leads them and once everyone is seated, Nakiyuuka serves them.
After lunch, some children run off to play and at 2pm, the bell is sounded for them to rest, have ballet classes, and enjoy an evening snack. Nakiyuuka then prepares them for departure at 3pm. As we wind up, I ask her, how she maintains her patience! “I love what I do and I love the patience I have with the children” she says with a calm face.
How does she deal with tantrums? I have not had extreme instances of tantrums and after understanding children, you know how to deal with each one of them.
The most trying time is first term when I am meeting the children for the first time but once you get to know them, handling them becomes easy because you know their strengths and weaknesses.
“Children are from different homes and have different behaviour. For some of them, I deny them the right to their favourite activity when they misbehave.” As we wind up, it is amazing that Nakiyuuka does not look worn out at all. I cannot help but applaud her for the tremendous effort she puts in ensuring that the children are well taken care of and are happy to return to school the next day.
ROSE NAKAFEERO:
I use various teaching aids

Rose Nakafeero teaches Top Class at Victorious Education Services, Kindergarten, Rubaga Campus. As she moves around teaching the children numbers, she is very elaborate and descriptive.
She then asks the class to define addition. One answer strikes me as the boy defines addition, “addition is when someone comes and hugs you.” I am astounded as I listen to the different answers.
“I use several learning aids so as to capture their attention but I make sure that I have enough so that each child gets one,” Nakafeero shares. She elaborates and defines addition using two boxes in her hands saying each box is on its own but put together, they are two. This is the same method the children employ to add the different numbers on the board. We also use group activities so that every child is included and masters what we learn during the day.

Teaching them to appreciate
Through this technique, “I use stickers and sweets plus little gifts to appreciate the active participants. When you appreciate the active and disciplined pupils, even the others are encouraged to be at their best behaviour so that they, too, are appreciated.”
Nakafeero notes that in cases where children are too active, they engage the parents so that they get a way forward on how to handle them. As I observe, one particular boy is counting more or less sticks. If Nakafeero says six, he counts seven or rather five sticks. I later find out that he learns at a slow pace. For his case, Nakafeero says she goes to his seat and helps him with the lessons to bring him up to speed.
Teaching kindergarten children is no mean feat. Nakafeero shares that there are children who are really active during lessons. Besides, each child has a different learning style. As a teacher, I have to study them all and adjust to each one’s needs. On some days, some cry from the time they arrive at school to break time. As lunch break draws closer, Nakafeero calls one of the pupils to the front to elaborate what they have been learning. The child is to add nine and five. As others cheer her on for getting the total (14) right, she dances to the tune of everyone clapping for her. As we wind up, Nakafeero shares that she is always thankful for the day as she prepares for her next time to be with her pupils afresh.
CATHY NABWIRE:
I treat them like my own children
Nabwire is a teacher at Kings Way Nursery School for children aged three to six years. On a typical day, class starts at 8am and ends at 12:30pm. Nabwire shares that she joined teaching when she was uncertain but during her teaching practice, she realised she was cut out for this! Nine years later, she is still loving it.
As I walk into Top Class B, all the children are beaming with smiles as they look at me. Nabwire introduces me and the children greet me in chorus. It is reading time and they are grouped accordingly. Before long, we are reading sentences. Outside the class, pupils are peeping and Nabwire orders them back to their classes. They run off while laughing. As the children read, the bell for break time is sounded. It is then that I notice that I came on a day the children were holding their joint birthday celebration. Nabwire explains that towards the end of the term, they hold a birthday celebration and children born in the months during the school term celebrate with the entire school. In this case, it was pupils born in May, June, July and early August.
We then walk out of class to the assembly point. This creates a different perspective altogether. Nabwire is coordinating the birthday babies and the other nursery school children. She dances with the little ones and one can notice that she is a favourite among them. The birthday celebration goes on until 12:30pm. All the children are then requested to return to their respective classes. Top Class B members have their snack.
Nabwire is helping those that need assistance with opening their eats. As the children have their snack, they are conversing and the mood is light. Nabwire is also sharing stories with them to which they respond with stories or versions of their own.
It is then lunch time and as they wait to be served, the children are quiet. Nabwire then directs them to their resting room. Some keep playing but she keeps telling them to sleep. It is during this time that those who are picked are called upon and taken home depending on the arrival time of their parents or caretakers.
As we chat, Nabwire confesses that sometimes it is hectic, “but at the end of the day, I am thankful for making it through. When the children are picked and taken home and none of them is hurt, I thank God.”
At the end of the day, she is proud of what she does. “I have learnt through the children. I am proud to be a teacher. The little ones take away my stress. When I stay with them, they make me happy. The children are my friends and I have got to know many people especially parents through them. Others give me presents because they appreciate what I do.” As she prepares those that take the van, she notes that she treats the children like a mother. “How I would treat my own is how I treat them and nothing less.”
PHIONAH KATUSIIME:
I emphasise practical learning
Phionah Katusiime is a baby class teacher at Little Royals Kindergarten in Seguku on Entebbe Road. The average age in her class is three to four years. Katusiime greets the little ones with; “hello, hey,” as a way of getting their attention. The children are learning numbers and the topic is counting. Katusiime shows them a placard with number one which the children identify easily.
But she also has a few leaves and some cups on the table. As she is teaching, she calls upon some children to come pick, “one leaf and two cups”. This gets the children excited and eager to participate in the lesson.

Challenges
Katusiime shares that some of the children come to school when they are still young and require extra attention. “However, by second and third term, the children have grown and can fend a lot more independently compared to when they joined in first term.”
She further shares that some children come to school and do not want to interact. “I find ways of making them speak and by the end of the day, they are happy and running about,” Katusiime says.
She prides in
As a kindergarten teacher, Katusiime shares that she is able to pull it off because she likes playing, a trait that has helped her keep afloat as a teacher. “I introduce a song in the middle of the lesson which keeps my pupils active,” she shares. She also notes that one has to always be happy and laugh with the children so that they can get used to them.
As the children conclude their lesson, every one of them receives a cupcake as those that are picked by the van are prepared while those who are picked by their parents wait patiently in their classrooms.

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