Head of Pre-primary Mrs G Haux
During the COVID-19 lockdown period, most children spend less time than usual at pre-schools. Parents might be worried about all the activities the learners are missing out on. Yet it might surprise you that helping to prepare pre-schoolers to read is within the reach of most families. Reading aloud to little ones is probably the single most important thing, but helping your children develop their phonological awareness is also a huge stepping-stone to becoming future readers. Phonological awareness is the ability to recognise and manipulate units of oral language. These units can include syllables, individual letter sounds, or rhyming phrases.
Here are some basic ideas:
1. Rhyme Time
Call out a simple word such as cat, bun, or dig. Say another word that rhymes with the first word (hat, fun or pig). Then, ask your child to name another word that rhymes with your pair (mat, sun or big, etc.).
2. Silly Sayings
Name a word that begins with a chosen sound (e.g. ‘m’) and then each player takes a turn adding a word to the saying with the same beginning sound. My mom must make millions of messy marshmallows.
3. Not Like the Others
Ask your children to tell you which word is not like the others, one word has a different ending sound: leg, bed, peg (bed) or a bit more complex; red, sit, pod (sit).
4. Clap the Parts
This activity encourages children to break down words into syllables. Invite the children to clap the word parts. Start with your child’s name and then move to other names. Lu-cy, Si-pho, Than-do etc.
Children can benefit from reading, writing, and oral language activities as they develop their phonological skills. Fun times together also strengthen family bonds and this emotional support helps lay a good foundation for future learning.
Head of Phase Mrs L Stegen
There are important skills which must be developed in a child’s life such as social, emotional, cognitive, perceptual and physical skills. Under each of these are many other skills that are just as important. One which is often overlooked in vision skills which include movement control, eye focus and co-ordination and the teamwork between the eyes.
Children often complain about headaches, blurry long or short distance vision, losing their place while reading, re-reading a line and letters that seem to jump around. Such comments must not be ignored. A child could experience difficulties at school because of a vision problem. Such a child needs, and can benefit from, a complete, professional, comprehensive eye examination. Some of these conditions could improve by doing vision therapy if identified by an optometrist.
Here are some simple exercises that can be done at home:
1. Ball on a string
Do exercises by alternating right eye open and then left eye open (one minute per eye). Do the exercise with both eyes open (two minutes both eyes open).
Let the child lie flat on his/her back on the floor. Close the right eye with the right hand. Hold a ball of string approximately 10-15 cm from the child’s nose. Swing the ball in a pendulum motion from right to left, left to right or in a small circle. The child must follow the ball with his/her eyes with smooth accurate movements. Repeat this with the left eye (one minute per eye). Repeat with both eyes open for two minutes.
2. Bounce ball and toss
Do exercises by alternating right eye open and then left eye open (one minute per eye). Do the exercise with both eyes open (two minutes both eyes open). Option 1: Start by closing the child’s right eye and bouncing the ball with the left hand for one minute. Open both eyes and alternate ball bounce with right and left hand for two minutes.
Option 2: Stand approximately three metres away from a bucket. Close the right eye and use the right hand. Toss the ball into the bucket. Repeat this by closing the left eye and using the left hand. Repeat this keeping both eyes open and alternating the right and left hands. To increase the level of difficulty have the child take a step back every time the ball goes into the bucket and step closer for every miss. 3. Pencil push-ups
Do the exercise with both eyes open. Hold the pencil about 20cm in front of the child. Have the child focus on the tip of the pencil. Slowly move the pencil close towards the child’s nose. Ask the child to report when he/she sees the pencil double. Of they report seeing double, move the pencil backwards until the pencil can be seen singularly again. Then slowly bring the pencil close again. Once the child is able to keep the pencil clear and singular at the point of his/her nose, count to 10 while the child keeps focus and then start again.
Vision therapy, also known as vision training, is therefore possible by doing different eye exercises which will also help children develop other gross and fine motor and physical skills.
The Benefits of Remote Learning
Head of Phase Mrs E Gouws
Spring arrives in the month of September and so do third term reports. This report reflects the academic progress since the beginning of the year but, as you know, this year has been abnormal in every sense of the word; the second term was remote learning and the third term, a combination of contact and remote. Increasingly teachers report that there are benefits to the remote learning experience. Some learners struggle with this type of learning whereas others thrive.
The flexibility to work at their own pace gives learners a chance to exercise, take breaks or even get bored, all of which are beneficial. Jam-packed schedules can be challenging to juggle. Over-committed learners are more likely to experience high anxiety levels. Reducing the chatter
Many learners have commented about missing their friends and teachers at school. For some learners, school may be fraught with anxiety resulting from pressure to ‘fit in’ which can influence their focus in class. Getting enough sleep
The difference in some learners’ performance may be linked to sleep. Many learners no longer wake up every day to a very early alarm clock. They sleep longer hours, feel refreshed and consequently perform better academically.
Some comments from Intermediate Phase learners are:
I liked remote learning because…
“…we could sleep longer and work in the garden more.”
“…I could get help from my family.”
“…I did not have to come to school, and I could play.”
“…if I finished quickly, I could read and play.”
I did not like remote learning because…
“…I could not see my friends and my teacher could not explain the work.”
“…I sat alone in front of the paper and no one could help me. It was complicated without the teachers.”
“…I did not like it because it was too complicated.”
At the end of the day, parents may be surprised that, despite all the interruptions and abnormalities of the second and third terms of 2020, their children have been educated and acquired additional skills and benefits.
Grade 9 Subject Choices
Head of Phase Mr D van Straten
Senior phase learners make their FET subject choices at the end of Grade 9. The subjects that they choose might have significant bearing on their career path after school and making the correct choices could prevent much disillusionment later in life.
Although teachers and academic management provide learners with guidance in this regard, parents ultimately have the responsibility to assist (and allow) their children to make informed choices. The idea that my child can change subjects later in the FET phase is misinformed in that such changes are only allowed under special circumstances and with certain conditions.
Considering these aspects, how should parents assist their Grade 9 child to make the right subject choices?
Generally, it is more valuable to keep a wide variety of options open at this early stage and choose a broad-based package of subjects rather than a set of subjects to which your child is not suited.
Here are a few points to consider:
Look at your child’s previous achievements.Make a list of each subject and check whether they enjoy it and are good at it. These achievements say much about their abilities, commitment and enthusiasm.
Encourage your child to do research.Encourage your child to talk to various people about their subject choices and career paths, and to their teachers, particularly those who teach the subjects they are interested in.
And finally, look at various career paths and consider the times.It is important to remember that the subject package learners choose will often lay the foundation for future careers. Living in a country where about 50% of youth are unemployed and entering a future where the world of work is changing because of automation, it is important to choose subjects that will not leave your child in the lurch later in life. The following websites give some insights into which skills are sought after in South Africa:
Attitude is everything
Head of Phase Mrs A du Preez
Almost two months into Term 3 and various levels of lock down, one still marvels at the young faces in the classroom: Joy and thankfulness are written on them – or at least on the part not covered by masks! There is a thrill in the air. The children are happy to be back at school. And they WANT to learn!
This is a dream for any teacher. No time or energy is wasted because lock down has refined the attitudes of learners and school has become a privilege.
One notices the impact of attitudes during lessons. It can make or break a person – it determines failure or success. It affects our approach to life and our relationship with others. When a new task is started, the outcome is affected by attitude more than anything else. Attitude can turn problems into blessings. In his book, “What every leader needs to know”, John C. Maxwell puts it so well: “When confronted with a difficult situation, a person with an outstanding attitude makes the best of it while he gets the worst of it.” This was true in the life of Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War; John Bunyan who wrote The Pilgrim’s Progress in prison; Sir Walter Raleigh who wrote The History of the World during thirteen years in prison; Martin Luther who translated the Bible while in hiding and Beethoven who composed his greatest works despite his deafness and deep sorrow. Great leaders emerge during crises.
Think of the ancient Israelite soldiers who saw Goliath and thought, He is so big, we can never kill him. David’s perspective of the same giant: He is so big, I cannot miss! Jesus is the true Teacher of good attitudes – godly attitudes. If we walk with Him and learn from Him, we will not need many recipes and 6-, 10- or however- many-point methods to achieve success. We will not even need intellectual self-help literature. Jesus will always be the greatest Teacher.
The clean sea breeze of centuries
Mrs H Pretorius
C.S. Lewis often spoke about something he called “chronological snobbery”. In summary, it is the belief that anything from the past is old-fashioned and passé simply because it is from an earlier time period when obviously (in the view of modernity), people were not as intelligent or educated as we are at this moment in time.
To cure oneself of such a view his proposed remedy was the reading of old books: “Every age has its own outlook. It is especially good at seeing certain truths and especially liable to make certain mistakes. … None of us can fully escape this blindness, but we shall certainly increase it, and weaken our guard against it, if we read only modern books….The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds and this can only be done by reading old books.”
I’ve had occasion recently to consider C.S. Lewis’s comments as I watch the upheaval of societies across the world and the apparently unremitting attacks on values that for centuries proved to be the foundation of so much that was good.
When educating children, we certainly need the “clean sea breeze of centuries blowing through our minds” in this modern era of self: self-gratification, self-realisation, self-aggrandisement, self-pity and all the other “selfs”.
A characteristic that seems to be non-existent in many young people today – and the consequence of this is on grand display across the globe – is the ability to submit to authority and to work for a better world in the manner of people such as William Wilberforce, Frederick Douglass and Elizabeth Fry. What would our world look like if each of these giants used the methods of some of today’s would-be reformers? By their faith in God, their tireless effort and grit (to use a modern buzz word), their selflessness and their respect for their fellowmen (even those whose policies they opposed), they were able to bring about lasting change.
Which brings me back to C.S. Lewis. It is easy to criticise today’s young people for taking the relatively easy and spectacular route of violent protest against authority and societal ills – the road to revolution – but what role do parents and schools play? Lewis said, “This very obvious fact—that each generation is taught by an earlier generation—must be kept firmly in mind … None can give to another what he does not possess himself. No generation can bequeath to its successor what it has not got. … if we are sceptical we shall teach only scepticism to our pupils, if fools only folly, if vulgar only vulgarity, if saints sanctity, if heroes heroism.”
I, for one, want to allow the “clean sea breeze of centuries” to blow through my mind and life, and what better old book to turn to than the Bible? It is in the Bible that we will find the remedy for our modern antagonism towards legitimate authority and structure.