Scene 1: First Day of School at Kiddies College Preschool


During A-term, our group prepared to work with Kiddies College Preschool. A main focus of the project is to build a working relationship with Kiddies College so future project teams can use this connection and our gained knowledge as resources to help improve crèches in informal settlements.  The best way to approach this objective was to address Kiddies’ immediate needs including the expansion of facilities, registration of the new facility and possible upgrades to record keeping of the centre. To prepare ourselves for these potential projects we researched facilities, government registration, record keeping, and general Early Childhood Development in South Africa.  We did not have contact with our liaison, Ms. May, throughout the preparation period as she was traveling.  Before arrival, we did not have many expectations of the crèche. At this point in time we had been able to see a few pictures of the facility and children on their blog, but no contact with our liaison left our group with many questions to be answered.  All we were aware of was to arrive at the Observatory Community Centre where Kiddies is located at 10 O’ Clock on Monday morning the 28th of October where Kiddies staff would be gladly waiting for us. 

scene 1 pic 1

Cast of Characters:

Ms. May- our liaison, owner of Kiddies College Preschool

Tasneem- Principal of the current Kiddies College Preschool

Mama- Ms. May’s mother, employee of current Kiddies College Preschool

ECD Team- Nick Deraney, Katelyn Nicosia, Julie Waddell and Mindy Zhang


With our group’s accumulation of questions during the preparation period, we created an “on-the- ground” plan for our arrival in Cape Town. First, we planned to have a working discussion with Ms. May.  During this discussion, we wanted to learn more about Kiddies College’s success. After becoming more educated, we hoped to tour of the facilities and observe each classroom environment. While completing these objectives, we hope to successfully integrate ourselves into the Kiddies College community.

Key Observations Discussed in This Scene:

-Due to previous unpleasant experience with the town council, Ms. May is not interested in Section 20 registration, which would provide financial assistance. -Expansion is her number one priority. Ms. May has already found a potential facility, which we are in the process of pursing. -Kiddies College Preschool is registered with the government.

Actions and Observations:

After meeting with Ms. May for our initial introductions and short discussion of expectations, we visited each classroom to meet the teachers and children of Kiddies College. The first thing we noticed were the walls covered in paintings and colorings made by children, along with posters of the alphabet, numbers and other learning materials. Each classroom had small tables with the children’s names taped on the table where they were assigned to sit each day for activities and meals. There are cubbies for the children’s belongings to be stored while they are learning and playing. In each classroom we were welcomed with the same song from each group of children during circle time. Our group observed that as we visited older classrooms they knew the words and gestures of the songs more and more. In our group’s eyes, this demonstrated the effect of their education and learning over the years at Kiddies. 

scene 1 pic 2

Figure 2: Image of a classroom at Kiddies College Preschool

We then retreated to the outdoor play areas to complete our tour. One play area is more structured with metal structures, while the other has a more natural feel to it with wooden playing structures. Here, Ms. May discussed with us the many obstacles she has overcome in last fifteen years in order to have such a successful business. She spoke about her start as a teacher working for a preschool that was owned and operated by the town council of Observatory. She told us that when the town council of Observatory closed the school she was left with no job and a passion for Early Childhood Development that she couldn’t seem to shake. She and a few other teachers fought to renew the lease at the Observatory Community Centre to open their own preschool. As a single mother of a four-month-old daughter she and Tasneem, the current principle, opened the preschool and has kept it running. May’s experience with the local municipality and town council has shown to leave a lasting impression. She does not wish to register the preschool under Section 20 through the Department of Social Development, which would allow her to receive subsidies. She is however registered as an ECD centre by the government. Ms. May’s understanding is that registering under Section 20 would bring an end to the traditional South African family atmosphere, which she is striving to protect.  For example, she explained that the school is framed as a family of equals, with home cooked meals for the children made twice a day by her own mother, “Mamma.” If Kiddies were to register under Section 20, they would be issued “packets of Just-Add-Water” food to provide to the children, taking out the tradition and home feeling from their meals. After revealing these ideas and the importance of her teaching methods, May told us about a new project that she hoped would be the focus of our work at Kiddies.  May informed us that she and the staff were planning to open a new school, Kiddies College Preschool too.  May had already found a potential location in the Wynberg district, specifically Plumstead. The property is a nine-bedroom house that was previously used as a healing and massage centre. We worked to create a flyer to post around the Wynberg area to get a feel for the need of a centre in that area, which can be seen below. In order to determine if her rates and services would be competitive in the area, we called a daycare facility in Plumstead to inquire about their crèche. We confirmed that her current idea of rates and services would be competitive. We finished off our “first day of school” day by making an appointment to meet with a social worker from the Department of Social Development that services the Wynberg/Plumstead area, which we scheduled for the next morning. Overall, we were all very excited about our first day on the project and the opportunities we were presented with.

scene 1 pic 3

Figure 3: Flyer for Kiddies College Preschool too that was created by the group for advertisement 

Reflections and Learning:

Our first day at Kiddies College Preschool was very motivational and quite exciting. We walked in and were immediately greeted with smiles and open arms from teachers and children alike. Entering such a loving environment that promotes both compassion for its learners and a structured, productive environment was so refreshing. It truly reassured us that the work we will be doing is important to a great group of people. The ability we had to take noticeable steps forward on our first day left us motivated and excited. We hope to continue to make similar strides with each day that we work with this beautiful institution.