Today my daughters had a day off school, and I had a date with another local school, so we went together. Sekolah Gajah Wong is a free independent preschool run by passionate teachers in the Ledhok Timoho neighbourhood, along the banks of the Gajah Wong river. At the Northern end of the river you can find fancy restaurants and university students, but in the south, the Ledhok Timoho community comprises rubbish pickers, buskers, beggars and other families struggling to make ends meet, squatting on this patch of green in the big city. The free preschool gives kids a chance to receive quality early-childhood education that centres on their lives in the neighbourhood. This includes environmental education, growing vegetables and helping with the care of goats and fish, all of which are sold in order to contribute to the income of the school and the community.
We spent the school day with the kids, joining in with the songs and games at the start of the day, reading The Hairy-Nosed Wombats Find A Home (by Jackie French, illustrated by Sue deGennaro) then setting of to the small forest nearby to collect leaves for compost making. After a lot of collecting, climbing, stomping and mess making was done, and then we returned to the school room a few hundred metres away. After snack break we read Is Your Grandmother a Goanna? (by Pamela Allen) to which the resounding answer was “NOOOOOO!” (chuffa chuffa chuffa). I read the books mostly in Indonesian, translating as I went along. But there were plenty of opportunities to use the original text in Is Your Grandmother…. We left behind a few books that my daughter’s have grown out of (and which we have duplicates of back home), including some bilingual story-books.