Imagine this: 50 preschoolers running around, blowing bubbles, covered in sticky glue, eating snacks – and the giggles – oh the giggles! Chaos or pure joy?
Our Basotho staff see it as a privilege to educate the next generation of the cutest Basotho.
Help Lesotho’s Preschool Literary Program enhances the early literacy experiences for children from underprivileged preschools who might otherwise enter elementary school unprepared and unmotivated to learn.
Preschools with the most need are selected from the areas surrounding Help Lesotho’s two centres in Hlotse and Pitseng.
Throughout the duration of the program, each preschool is visited bi-weekly by Help Lesotho staff who facilitate literacy activities, such as story time and alphabet songs with the tiny students. After school hours, the preschool teachers attend teacher training workshops.
Currently, three classes of preschoolers, totalling 150, and their teachers from Hlotse, Lesotho are enrolled in Help Lesotho’s Preschool Literacy Program.
The Preschool Teacher Training Workshops increase preschool teachers’ confidence and skills on teaching early literacy. Among the topics covered with preschool teachers are: The Importance of a Teacher; Early Literacy; Creative Learning Activities and Different Learning Styles for Students.
These sessions are eye opening for the teachers. They report that the workshops raised their self-esteem, because they realized their efforts are crucial to the cognitive development of their students. They valued learning about that importance of teaching and disciplining students with love instead of anger is necessary to support the healthy development of children. The preschool teachers leave the workshops feeling inspired and ready to change the lives of their students.
Help Lesotho Preschool Literacy Program supervisor, Thato Letsela, says, “The program assists teachers with the skills necessary to educate preschoolers. Many of the teachers have limited education, so this program is vital to their experience.”
The preschool teachers are given resources to assist their classrooms, such as story books, teaching aids and crayons. They were taught about using lesson plans and teaching modules. The teachers say they use their Help Lesotho resources with pride.
The Preschool Program culminates with a special Preschool Day visit to Help Lesotho’s Centres.
The preschoolers are warmly welcomed by Help Lesotho staff with lively songs and games, then they make each student a hat with their name written across the front (writing their own name is a skill the preschool teachers are encouraged to practice with their pupils prior to the visit).
While at the centre, the children participate in a variety of interesting and fun literacy-based games and activities.
These little ones sing songs, play games, make crafts, learn about themselves, including simple life skills such as where they live, the five senses, body parts, and are introduced to books (because most preschoolers have never held a book before).
By fostering a love of reading in a non-reading culture, the program will have a lasting impact on these youngsters through exposure to books, improving their literacy skills and will set them up for success in elementary school.
The preschoolers are encouraged to continue visiting the Centre with their parents and siblings, which increases Help Lesotho’s reach in the community to teach life-saving HIV prevention, life skills and promote gender equity.
Preschool Program visit days put a smile on everyone’s faces at Help Lesotho’s Centres because they know this program is inspiring the next generation of Basotho leaders.