Jamaica’s smallest students go back to school

With the new school year beginning, it’s not just the primary and high school students who have been getting their school books ready. Some of the country’s youngest citizens are also starting their journeys with the A, B, Cs and 1, 2, 3s.

The second-to-last week of August saw an orientation day for new students and parents at the Little World Early Childhood Development Centre, which sits tucked behind the neighborhood houses in May Pen. If you don’t know where you’re going, and you don’t pay attention to the sign, you might just miss it. Although that’s unlikely if you’re from the area – Little World is well-known among and supported by the community.

A passion for teaching

Lorna Reid-Sinclair with her granddaughters, Alayna and Kla-Rayne
UNICEF/JAM/PawelczykLorna Reid-Sinclair with her granddaughters, Alayna and Kla-Rayne.

Little World is run by Lorna Reid-Sinclair. She has been a teacher for 36 years, and for many years she juggled full time teaching at a local Primary School with teaching at the centre. Then in 2010 Lorna took an early retirement and started working at Little World full time. She says that she had always wanted to be a teacher, and her passion for learning is clear. While she was teaching full time, she always found herself focusing on those students who were falling behind.

“Being a teacher has helped me to reach the children that cannot read and write and have behavioural problems. It feels great when persons call me on the street saying, ‘teacher you taught me at May Pen Primary’.”

A scientist in the making

Alayna Plummer is seven-years old and attended the Little World Centre when she was younger – Lorna is her grandmother, and her mom, Loriel Bennett-Plummer is the acting principal and a teacher at the school. Alayna is confident and talkative, and rises to the challenge when her grandmother asks her to demonstrate her reading skills.

Alayna says she wants to be a scientist when she grows up – but she isn’t sure what kind of scientist just yet. Her younger sister, Kla-Rayne is three and doesn’t venture far from her sister. Her favourite thing about going to school, she says, is the food.

Sunshine, rainbows and accessible classrooms

The inside of the Little World building is deceptively larger than it seems from the outside. The walls are brightly painted and colourful posters and signs are everywhere. Rather than using the traditional school grade naming conventions the classes at Little World have names like Sunshine, Sunbeam, Butterfly, and Rainbow. With the support of the Digicel Foundation, the school is currently making some alterations, expanding the restrooms and adding a ramp to make the center accessible for children with disabilities.

Gerald and Karlene Bullens, with three-year-old Geri-Kay.
UNICEF/JAM/PawelczykGerald and Karlene Bullens, with three-year-old Geri-Kay.

Outside in the garden, against the painted walls that describe food groups and the numbers in Spanish, the new arrivals gather and join the teachers in song. Gerald Bullens is here with his daughter Geri-Kay (3) who is about to start at Little World. AlthoughGeri-Kay is a little shy, Gerald says that she’s looking forward to it and when they pass their local school she says that “she wants to go to the ABC”.

And starting this week, that wish will come true.

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Comments:

    1. Hi Shelly-ann, sorry but we don’t provide direct assistance. Our help goes to the Ministry of Education and the programmes we support there. We do hope that you’re able to find the means to ensure your songs go back to school.