We have three multi-level tutor classes consisting of different ages between grades R and grade 6. Each class has a maximum of 10 learners. The interaction between children of different ages has many advantages. It provides opportunities for the children to learn from each other, it encourages team work and mentoring and builds confidence and self-esteem. A child that can explain a concept to another child, knows the topic well!
We recognize that all learners have different abilities which is why our classes are categorised by ability in the different core subjects rather than grade. Some children have missed foundations in subjects such as English, and Afrikaans and Maths and need to consolidate that knowledge first before learning new concepts. Children may have fallen behind in the curriculum because they find it difficult to complete work in the required time or work independently, other children cope well with the curriculum but work better in a smaller environment, needing a more individualized, less pressurised learning conditions to thrive. There are also children who have worked beyond their grade curriculum and in these mixed classes are given the opportunity to continue learning.
Children are empowered to work through the curriculum at their own pace, at their own level, ensuring understanding and competence before moving on to the next concept and the next stage. As a result these learners can work together without any one of them feeling out of their depth or inadequate because they don’t understand certain concepts.
The Learning Environment
At Growing Minds we recognize the importance of the learning environment. Our classrooms have been carefully designed – always considering the needs of individual learners. From the colours on the walls and the heights of the desks to different seating options, every detail has been examined to make sure the child has the best opportunity to learn.
Remedial equipment, such as scissors for both right and left handers, incline boards to support handwriting, posture and vision, as well as a fidget toys for children who need to move whilst learning, are all available in the classroom to support those learners that need them.
Individualised Learning Programmes
Each child is assessed upon joining Growing Minds and an Individualised Learning Programme is prepared.
These programmes outline each child’s areas of competence and includes a plan of action to assist the learner to develop and grow within the framework of the curriculum. The Individualised Learning Programme outlines clear goals as well as the support and strategies to be implemented into the classroom to help that specific child. These programmes also help us to plan for the full year, giving the teachers and the parents clear understanding of the goals we look to achieve.
Integrated Teaching and Assessment
Our aim is to teach children that what they learn within the classroom can be applied to their worlds. This creates a far greater understanding of the topic than rote learning.
We don’t teach to test - we teach to encourage curiosity and develop understanding. We use the world around us as opportunities to learn, using day to day living as part of our teaching.
We use integrated teaching methods, for instance, teaching history topics at the same time as developing English language skills then transferring this knowledge into Afrikaans. Not only does this make far more effective use of time but it allows for easier, informal assessment of the child’s ability and thus less time spent on formal assessments.
We follow the guidelines of the CAPS curriculum within each of the grades. We ensure that our academic standards are of the highest level and undertake the necessary assessments as required by the WCED. However, our interactive teaching and assessment methods ensure our learners focus on understanding and application rather than ‘marks’.
We offer the following subjects to all our learners:
- Life Orientation
- Physical Education
Hands on learning is crucial within the classroom and every effort is made to accommodate different learning styles. For those that learn best by doing, regular field trips and excursions that complement the curriculum are made to enhance understanding and knowledge. These trips could be as simple as a trip around the roads to learn road safety, a trip to the beach to learn about tides, or it could be a visit to a local art museum. Parents are encouraged to join their children on these trips when appropriate.
In the classroom, we also use visual and auditory learning to ensure that all learners can learn in their own way.