Back In The Swing Of Things

We started work again on Monday. So quickly the holidays have come and gone and now we wait another eleven months until our next long break.

Though I am still at the school I’ve been working at for the past three years, I am no longer with my Ladybirds. At my request, my boss moved me to the toddler group (The Ducklings). It wasn’t because I no longer loved teaching 3-4 year olds; I just really needed a change. The oddest thing is how people look at me and assume I’ve been “demoted” or am being “punished” or that I can’t “cope” with the bigger kids any more.

It couldn’t be further from the truth.

No age group is any more or any less challenging than another group. The pace is slower with the toddlers, but their independence level is far lower. I can still do the same amount of creative work, but it’s even more of a challenge to think of stuff that is stimulating for this age group, and is stuff that they can do themselves without too much help. A totally different outlook, mindset and skills set is required.

It’s something new. Something different. And I NEED this.

So far, only four of my children have arrived. Two will only be starting in February when they get back from holiday, and two are still in the baby centre as they can’t walk yet, having only turned one in December. Others may still enrol.

The four I have are all boys.

Neo (pronounced Neh-woh, not Nee-oh, though my boss has already nicknamed him “Matrix”) is the oldest, and the smallest. He’s never been to school before so it’s a huge adjustment for him. He’s at his happiest sitting in your lap while he plays with your mouth with his fingers. On day one, he cried constantly. Now, on day three, he’s confident enough to play with and talk to his class mates, and move more than a meter away from me. He still cries when I leave the room, however.

Langa has been at the school since he was a few months old. He’s turning two in February. He’s naughty as anything and loves to see how long he can ignore me before I will actually start chasing him. He’s got a brilliant sense of humour and is very clever. He can sing the whole of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “Jingle Bells”, as well as count all the way to ten (He will only do this if you’re not looking at him – if you try to ask him to count for you, he just giggles).

Tawfeeq is a sweet and gentle little boy with a butterfly obsession. Seriously. The kid goes NUTS for butterflies. I gave him a free-drawing task yesterday and he looked at his scribble and excitedly squealed, “It a buttah-fie!!!” He’s not as rough as my other boys but he enjoys playing with them. He loves coming for cuddles. Not too keen on eating though.

Stephan is my current youngest. Absolutely adorable and he knows it. It’s very hard to be cross with him because all he has to do is smile and hold out his arms and my heart melts (Note to self – get a stronger heart…). He is a typical boy – loves cars and trucks and is constantly raiding the shelves with the big trucks – no matter how many times you tell him no. Insofar as kids this age form bonds with each other, Langa is his best friend. He, along with Langa and Tawfeeq, form our class’s Three Musketeers. All for one – unless you get caught, then it’s every kid for himself!

I didn’t have the excitement towards the end of the holidays that I usually do. But it’s just set in late. I am so excited to be with this group. So excited for the new challenges. I’m loving it.

(Ask me again in a few months and I’ll be begging for the holidays).

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Closing Circles

2012 has been one of those years. Momentous and heartbreaking and fun and full of changes.

Some changes have been big.

My mom died.
I made the decision to move out.
I’m leaving my Ladybirds and moving to the toddler group at work.
I’m going back to college.
I finally realised I am a girl. With boobs and everything. For real.
I figured out I can actually fall in love – and I’ve even been on a date!

Some changes have been small.

I’m growing my hair.
I have grown in confidence.
I have gained a voice.
I am becoming my own person, undefined by others.

Everyone who reads this: I know you’ve had your changes, big and small this year.

On a global scale, things are changing too. More people have access to the internet than ever before. Dictators are being overthrown. Crimes against humanity are being noticed. People are talking. People are starting to care about one another, bit by bit.

Many circles are closing. And many new ones are forming.

2012. It may not have brought about the Zombie Apocalypse. But my world ended. It fell apart. And I’m picking up the pieces and gluing them back into a stronger whole. I am walking away from the things in my past that have hurt me. I’m letting go of the things that have weighed me down. It’s not easy to put them down, but I am finally ready.

So close the circles that must be closed. Start walking the new ones. They’re bright and full of promise.

Highlights

While there are some downsides to teaching  – the occasionally emotional days, the ick factor, working with 11 other women which means there’s ALWAYS someone PMSing… there are some awesome moments, too. So I thought I’d share them with you.

Today, I got my kids to draw their faces, since I’ve been focussing a lot on body awareness the last few weeks. Rethabile started colouring something in, and I couldn’t figure out what she was doing.

Me: Whatcha drawin’, Retha?
Retha: Red eyes.
Me: O___o; O… okay…

Where she got the idea from, I don’t know, but next thing I knew, her entire group all had red-eyed drawings.  A trend setter in the making!

See, I studied anthropology for a few years, so teaching absolutely tickles the part of me that is an anthropologist (my gods that’s a complicated word to type!). Last year, for insance, I saw first hand the development of slang: there’s a TV show on Cartoon Network where a main character eats bananas to gain super powers (laser beams shooting out of his eyes). The character eats a banana and declares, “I am Mighty Ray! FEAR MY EYEBALLS!!!” and then it’s smack-down for the baddies. So one of my kids, upon bringing a banana to school, said, “Hey, I’m Mighty Ray! Fear my eyeballs! Shwooooom!”

Within days, all the kids were referring to bananas as Mighty Rays. It’s what’s for lunch. For the whole year.

I also love when I set a task for my kids where they really excel beyond what I expect.

Last week, I asked my kids to assemble a torso, legs and a head on a piece of paper in the right order. Some were… interesting…

Yet by no means not good!

 

The rest were simply awesome.

 

 

 

This kind of thing makes me so happy I actually have no words for it.

And then there’s this:

Munaishe has an ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). I’m not sure what was going through his head, but he opened his yoghurt at snack time and decided to put the lid on his head. Then he dribbled yoghurt on the table and set about wiping it with his sandwich plastic with a look of absolute, focussed glee.

Cleaning up is honestly no chore after that. Seriously.

And lastly this:

This is Calvin, and if you’ve read that post, then this picture needs no other words.

 

Anticipation

We all went in to work today and prepped our classrooms for the new year. Tomorrow we open our doors to the children and my quiet three weeks of holiday come to an end.

The posters are up…

My birthday wall stands ready for photos of my kids.

I’m sad the holiday is over but I’m anxious to begin the new year. I can’t wait to meet my new class and see what this new bunch has to offer… and what I have to offer them.

Just as ever child is different, every class is different. How I worked with my class last year is not how I worked with the class the year before, or the year before that. I know some of what this class is capable of, as all the teachers communicate all problems and issues with each other. I know that this year my class will be a challenge. I have two special needs children in my class, one autistic, one with foetal anticonvulsant syndrome. It’s going to be hard.

But it’s going to be worth it.

I can’t wait.