Starting preschool during a pandemic

The story of Sofija and her day of Preschool after the COVID 19 lockdown in Kosovo.

Milica Radovanovic
Sofija
UNICEF/2020
08 October 2020

A thrilled girl with a radiant smile greets us at the front door of her house in North Mitrovica. The next we know is that her name is Sofija and she is six years old. Sofija is starting her first day of preschool today. From the moment you meet Sofijja, you can tell she is a social butterfly. She was zealous to tell us about her excitement she was experiencing for the beginning of her education journey.

Overjoyed she woke up the morning of the big day. Despite that the pandemic with COVID- 19 changed so many things, including the fact that start of the school year in Kosovo was delayed for two weeks.

Sofija was very disappointment when she learned about the delay. Nevertheless, she decided to make a calendar so she could keep track of how many days are still left until she will be able to go to preschool. Today she crossed off the last day in her calendar.

 “I think I am going to make many new friends, that we are going to play together and to visit each other”, Sofija said.

The whole family was looking forward to this day because Sofija was truly excited about it. Sofija’s father says she was missing friends all this time. “This isolation was really hard for her; she was missing company all the time. She understood there was a virus and that in order not to get sick we cannot visit our friends. She understood all of that, but either way, from time to time she would ask if she could go to visit someone or if someone can come to our place”, Sofija’s father, Milos explained.

He explains to us that Sofija likes to paint, hang out with friends, watch cartoons, and to read books. She already knows how to read and write, although she prefers when her father reads to her. “The Little Prince”, “The Jungle Book”, “The Alice in Wonderland”, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”, “The Peter Pan “ - these are just some of her favorite book titles. Sofija says she outgrew fairytales and that nowadays she is more into adventurous books.

She is attending painting classes since she was three years old. Sofija paints all the time, and there are so many of her artworks that her parents’ home is soon going to be left out of space. She is passionate about painting and confident about her skills.

Children are constantly learning, right from birth. UNICEF ECD Research writes that recent neuroscience research on brain development and function has validated the importance of quality early interaction between a young child and her/his immediate environment. These early experiences create a foundation for their mental development and growth, lifelong learning, and productivity.

Drawing and painting help children to develop fine motor skills, writing, reading, creativity, and boost self-esteem. But not only that, these artistic activities are excellent ways for children to express their feelings and emotions and it also helps them with learning other subjects such as reading and math.

“I paint really nice. One day when I grow up, I am going to be a famous artist … no, no, I am going to be the most famous artist”, Sofija explained. She even painted a picture as a gift to us.“I am convinced Sofija can better learn some things here at home than in preschool, but preschool is not only about that” explains Sofija’s father adding that she misses talking and playing with her friends, waking up early.

“She simply misses the other kids' company”, he concluded.
 

Sofija and her mother
UNICEF/2020