Preschool Antics

Nurse Jamilyn - what a cutie!
The Holy Cross preschool has gotten off to a wonderful start, with 15 bright-eyed 4 year olds attending every morning, while a few less three year olds come every afternoon. Although I could happily spend all my time in the preschool and blogging cute stories, I'll keep it short.

Our preschool children are learning many of the same things as their counterparts from around the world - simple numbers, letters, learning through play, how to get along with others and the rules of being in a classroom.

In Belize, few children attend preschool. Often this is because the local preschools are very expensive - one local preschool is charging $25 Belize ($12.50 US) a week per child at preschool - a huge burden when you consider the average wage is $40 BZ per day and families commonly have 5 children.  Also, particularly at our school where we focus on providing education for the most disadvantaged children, few have had parents who have had the skill, resources or time to teach their children any of the basic skills and knowledge many western schools take for granted.

Mrs Jamira, the preschool teacher, who previously taught our Infant 1 class (equivalent to K in the US system), had a lot to say about the advantages our preschool is giving our children.  In previous years she says it's been common to have many children who arrive at school very unprepared. Many don't have the simple skills you might expect - how to hold a pencil, count to 5, spell their name or know their age, write any letters or even know the names of shapes. With 1 teacher to 25 or more children, it's really tough to fill these gaps in learning while also keeping up with the curriculum. But now, with our preschool, we have a whole class of children who are already learning these skills, who can be role models and helpers to their peers.

Now for the cute pictures!  March was child stimulation month and all the preschools had a chance to break out and learn beyond the classroom. Our kids had a ball. Here's a few highlights:
Culture Day, where all the children came dressed as one of the cultures found in Belize.
Community day: All the kids came dressed as a community worker, then spent the day meeting real community workers and learning about their jobs.

Three legged races in the park
Family Craft day was a hit

Spring Break at Holy Cross

Spring break is always a fun time at Holy Cross as people from many walks of life find their way to Holy Cross school and discover the reward of volunteering and fall in love with the local children. This Spring break we were once again blessed with several College teams who did so much.

LYCHBURG COLLEGE made their annual pilgrimage and as always were a fun team who knew how to work hard as well as relax. Taking our unofficial school motto - "Blessed are the flexible for they do not get bent out of shape" - they took unexpected school closures and local elections in their stride. Their goal for the week was repainting several areas that were in desperate need of attention, including parts of our dental clinic. They had a great time and we sure enjoyed having them here.
Lynchberg college having a great time scrubbing down walls and repainting.

PERDUE UNIVERSITY's Phi Kappa Psi formed an Inland Islander's group and made their second annual trip to Holy Cross, getting down to some serious work building a tool storage shed for Mr Freddy, as hiss previous shed was donated so that the sewing center had a place to work...blessed are the flexible!  These guys did a fantastic job in just a week pulling down an old structure then relocating it and rebuilding it as a wonderful tool shed. Mr Freddy was very happy to once again have is tools easily accessible in a safe, dry location. Thank you so much  to the guys of Inland Islanders.
Foundations for the new tool shed in place, floor and walls ready to go up.

DIANN from Emmanuel Church in Virginia Beach one again lent her skills to our library, bringing us into the digital age with cataloging software and a scanner so that we can scan all our books into the library, as well as scanning them in and out. Our wonderful librarian, Estrella, learned very quickly and was able to keep doing the work herself. Thanks also to the Jett Family who showed us that you're never too young to volunteer and not only donated a lot of books and funds for sewing machines but were able to help the mammoth task of removing books from shelves, sorting then replacing them as Estrella cataloged them.
Diann & Estrella hard at work in the library
Books generously donated by the Jett family. Thank you!!

We were also blessed with a couple of groups of teacher training students who spent time with our teachers. DRAKE UNIVERSITY brought with them a very enthusiastic team who brought a lot of supplies, energy and showed us how much potential the iPad has as a teaching tool (if you have one to donate then get in touch!).
A Drake student has a wonderful time reading with our preschoolers

No spring break would be complete without a team from OLE MISS who once again had a wonderful week in the classrooms supporting our teachers.We enjoyed meeting and talking to them, while our teachers picked up some valuable skills and exchanged information. They also hosted an activity day for the local kids in town.

Finally, our faithful supporters from ST MICHAEL'S CHURCH in Raliegh, North Carolina came back for their 6th year to run a fun Easter Vacation Bible School for the chldren as well as tackling the mammoth task of expanding our preschool building. During the mornings the children had a wonderful time learning the Easter message through singing, listening to stories, coloring, doing craft and hunting for Easter Eggs. While the children learned and played, the volunteers worked hard opening up the end wall of the preschool building (which was the old special ed class for those who know their way around) then lengthening the wall so that it now shares a wall with the classroom beside it. It was a tough challenge for 4 1/2 days but the team were amazing finishing everything including two coats of paint. WOW.
Local children and volunteers coloring the Easter story at Vacation Bible School.

The guys get serious about indoor plumbing for the preschool.

There were other visitors too - thank you to all of you who visited, toured, donated and supported us. We could not do what we do for the children of San Pedro without your support.

If this post has inspired you to get involved, please contact us at or visit our website for more information.

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