Adventureous Alphabetting

Every morning I go out to a yard full of children. This has been happening for the last month or so, and is because a nursery school, what we would call a preschool, has opened in my insaka. Eventually there will be an actual school building, but for now I’ve volunteered the shade of my kitchen, and that means that I get to experience nursery school each day along with all of the kids.

The school is open to all children in the area who haven’t started basic school so the group is about 30 kids between the ages of 3 and 7. And, boy, are they excited to learn! As they’re gathering in the hour before class starts they sing the days of the week at the top of their lungs, to the tune of “Oh, my darlin’ Clementine,” which, of course, gets it firmly stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

When 8 o’clock finally comes around, it’s
Teacher: Good morning class!
Chorus of small voices, nearly in unison: Good morning sir!
T: How are you?
Half the Chorus: I’m fine and how are you?
at the same time, Other half of the Chorus: We are fine and how are you?
T: We
Chorus: We
T: We are fine and how are you?
Chorus: We are fine and how are you? (of course there are still a few “I’m fine’s” in there, too)
And that just gets the morning started. Everything is taught in English, by listening and repeating. They did the colors last week
T: This is pink. Say “Pink”
Chorus: Pink
T: What color is this?
C: Pink
T: What color is this?
C: Pink
T: What color is this?
C: Pink
T: This is blue. Say “Blue”
C: Blue
T: What color is this?
C: Blue
T: What color is this?
C: Blue
T: What color is this?
C: Blue
T: What color is this?
C: Pink
T: What color is this?
C: Blue
and so on, for two hours.

Some days they do numbers from one to ten, sometimes colors, and sometimes days of the week. Yesterday they did basic English nouns, like “bowl,” “cup,” and “spoon.” My favorite, though, is when they practice the alphabet.

First of all, it’s to a different tune than ours. No more Baa Baa Black Sheep or Twinkle Twinkle Little star. Second, a few of the letters have different names. Z, for example, is “Zed,” and F is “Efoo.” Third, though, is that the alphabet is hard and there are a lot of letters to remember in the right order. So this is what I hear on alphabet days.

Everyone can agree on the first bit: “Aee, Bee, CeeDee. Eee, EFooGee. AicH, Eye, JayKay.”
Then things get a little more creative. If all the kids are singing together, this section is a jumbled hodgepodge of letters, and you can’t really make out what anyone’s saying. If it is just one, child singing, though, you may hear something like:
“El, Dee, Emm, Oh. Que, Cee, Pee, DoubleU.”
Then, finally, in roaring unison, you get:
“Ex, Why, and Zed!” With “Zed” shouted loudly and triumphantly. So alphabet days make me laugh, and I enjoy them immensely. I actually think I’ll be a little sad when they finally learn the standard alphabet: this free-form version is just so much more creative and entertaining.