Tears, nightmares and excitement

2011-01-15 18:35

So nervous was six-year-old Ruby Jenkins about going to Grade 1 that she had a nightmare about it the night before.

“I dreamed I was on a huge ­water slide and that the Grade 7s at the bottom wouldn’t catch me. But I didn’t end up jumping,” she says.

For Ruby’s classmate at Auckland Park Preparatory School for Girls in Johannesburg, Tayyeba Peer, starting Grade 1 on Wednesday was less nerve-wracking. In fact, she woke up excited.

“I asked myself, how do you put on socks because I only know how to put on Grade 0 socks. But I also know how to put on my jersey and my belt,” she grins.

She is not concerned about ­having to make new friends ­because she knows many of her classmates from Grade 0.

Ayanda Malala, on the other hand, doesn’t think it will be so easy to make new friends in Grade 1 at Auckland Park Primary.

The daughter of Justice Malala, the presenter of The Justice Factor on the eNews channel, says: “I’m quite shy to meet new friends. It’s hard to meet new friends when you don’t know them very well.”

A classmate, Asia Morais, is looking forward to learning art and mathematics.

When asked what her parents told her about school, she says: “Chalk is nice.”

The mood at Vulamasango Primary School in KaNyamazane township outside Nelspruit is somewhat different.
Sifiso Sibiya sits outside class, sobbing.

Teachers try to plead with him to enter the classroom, but he remains silent. School principal Raphael Phiri tries to carry him into class, but he digs in his heels in ­resistance and Phiri gives up.

“Those kids who didn’t attend pre-school always do this, but after a few days he will be fine,” Phiri says. “They put up a lot of resistance and we get bitten on the arms when we try to take them to class.”

Sifiso eventually allows a teacher to carry him to class and he sits in his first lesson – still sobbing.

In the grade R class Phumla ­Mbhokane tries to control her ­crying by putting her hand in her mouth.

“I want Melusi (her older brother),” she says softly. She is reluctant to talk but nods in agreement when asked if she likes school.

Khosi Nkatshane also likes school – “because writing and the food” make it nice. No wonder the Grade R learner wants to be a “ma’am” (teacher) one day.

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