"Are you having as much fun as we are having?"
The SOS Kindergarten Lilongwe is always a hive of activity and fun. The educators all strive to provide as much exposure to new experiences as they can. They also try to stimulate the children's sensory awareness in a variety of ways.
Activities such as singing and dancing, playing and exercising are tempered with periods of quiet times when the children are introduced to books and reading, problem solving and puzzles.
Music and movement is a popular session amongst all groups at SOS Kindergarten Lilongwe. Often it is used as a final activity for the day - a time when the educator schedules a session that will bring the whole group together so that everyone can say 'Goodbye!' to each other at the end of the day.
All of the children stand in a circle and start singing 'Waloura bwalo ndani?', which means 'who's making confusion in the middle?', to a traditional tune.
One by one the children enter the circle and do a little dance while they sing the song. Everyone has their turn at being in the centre of the circle. These sessions are big favourites with the children and everyone has lots of fun.
The music and movement activity develops listening and musical skills as well as motor skills. When the children dance in the middle of the circle they are able to use their creativity to make up their own dance to express themselves using movement. Such activities also form a bond not only between the children, but also between the children and the educators.
Take Mary, for example, who was at the kindergarten last year. In January, she started 'big school'. Even though the six-year-old has only been attending for a few months, the grounding that she had at the Kindergarten means that she can now read quite well, write her own name, solve simple arithmetic questions and recite the alphabet.
She still misses the fun she had at kindergarten and is realising that 'big school' means more concentration and harder work.
How do we know about Mary's progress now that she has left the kindergarten?
Annie Kaitano, the kindergarten principal keeps a check on how her previous pupils are managing as they start their way in life - although she believes that it is important for children to have fun while they are at the kindergarten, she also believes that it lays foundations for the children's future and Annie wants to see the progress her former pupils make.