Another great week at our Fun School under the belt so its a bumper blog today!
We pride ourselves on being a brain based school – this means we consider how the brain works and what it needs to function properly. Among other things we try to ensure that our children hydrate regularly, eat correctly and move! We do things that some might think is hokus pokus. I start each lesson with ‘mind moves’ – little exercises to wake up and switch on the ears, eyes and brain. No writing lesson begins unless we do a crossing the midline action game or song and we get our tiny fingers stretched and ready for fine movement. Our sports field is set out as a ‘walk-it’ circuit with stations at intervals where fitness exercises are done and we take our classes out at any time of the day to make us of this facility. Do these things make a difference? Definitely. One day last week I was really feeling under the weather with a thick head – I actually felt that my brain was missing! I muddled through the day and wondered why my girls were chatty, restless and producing messy work. It took a while for me to register that I had not done a single movement song or vigorous exercise with them – Hello. The next day in spite of still feeling groggy myself I got back with the programme and those girls were back to their brilliant selves!
But enough of my inadequacies and back to the rest of our stunning week. The rewards of teaching the First Grade as I have mentioned many times are great. How rapidly these little girls learn. Remember everything is new – so when they have to write a sentence many things come into play – I must get my pencil grip right, mind how I form the letters correctly and make sure the construction makes sense. Up until now the teacher or room parent has written their dictated sentences into their News Book. But on Monday they got to write their sentences on their own! First they tried it out on a strip of paper finding words on the Thrass chart, in their reading or sounding out phonetically and only when a word was just too difficult did they raise their hands for help. I was super proud of the results.
On Thursday we all arrived at school on a slightly chilly morning but still full of excitement because we were off to The Beach! Were we crazy – no in Sunny South Africa winter beach visits are quite acceptable. By nine o’clock the sun was out and it was just a little breezy. The children were briefed to note all the sounds, smells, feelings, tastes and sights they experienced. They needed no second invitation to strip to their bathing costumes and play in the shallows. We had a tough male gap student up to his knees and they were not allowed beyond him. We drew a boundary line on the sand and they weren’t allowed beyond that mark. The moms and dads were vigilent along with the teachers – there were two classes totalling over 60 boys and girls. And what fun we had – splashing in the sea, playing on the sand and building elaborate sand castles.
All too soon it was time to pack up and get back to school. We had given the children our paper coffee cups to use as mini buckets and after making sure these and all other litter was picked up and put into the bin we lined up ready to go back to the cars. A senior citizen approached me -“What school is this?” I told him and he said, “I have to compliment you on very well-disciplined and beautifully behaved children. I am a retired principal from Gauteng and it’s lovely to see the little ones having so much fun.” Of course I was hugely proud! What excellent adverts you are for your school boys and girls. That was not the only compliment we got – Fish Hoek Beach’s regular contingent of retirees were down there that morning and several of them asked where we were from and commented on how sweet the children were. They did not mind the ‘invasion’ at all.
Back in the classroom the children drew pictures and labled them with sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste words like – roaring ocean, gritty sand, squishy mud, salty chips, stinging eyes, clattering train, shrill whistle and pongy sea-weed!
It is Mother’s Day tomorrow – and I wish all my Moms a great and rewarding day with your little angels We had a big discussion on what our moms mean to us and then with great concentration they settled to making cards and creating their own sentences using their newfound skill of word hunting – of course teacher could be included a source for words. I just loved what they wrote and hope you do too:-) This one stood out – I love my mom because she teaches me important things! Don’t you just love it!
This is a bumper blog so I just need to write about one more thing! We teach our children to work cooperatively. I saw this working in a natural environment on the beach where the children chose who to build castles with. But in the classroom it might not run as smoothly. The children do not choose with whom they work. They have to learn to get on with everybody and of course there are often conflicts which they have to sort out mostly on their own. On Friday I set the girls to work on a specific cooperative activity. They had to make a graph of the different items in their lunch boxes, deciding who would do what and how to go about the process on their own, knowing their roles of organiser, gatekeeper, encourager and reporter. While they were busy I took a few minutes to explain to a room parent what I wanted her to do for me. One of my girls came up to tell me that one of her group was not taking turns! Now this was a mature, sensible little girl and instead of asking the room parent to wait, in my misguided wisdom I said, “Just let X do what she wants to for now and I will come and sort it out in a minute.” Wrong move, Teacher – those few moments were vital to that group – Justice had not been served and the three ‘good’ ones were outraged. They took the law into their own hands with disastrous results – yelling, pinching, scratching and tears! But it was not too late to save the day. We had a mini care circle and they worked out for themselves how things could have been done differently – what wisdom they demonstrated. The ‘culprit’ served a bit of time out and soon joined her group when she calmed down. Everybody learned from the experience. The interesting thing is that each group had a different way of working out the problem with equally good results. In the report back we all learned not only what we set out to discover – what was the most common item in our lunches – but also how each group went about handling the task. Definitely a good thing to do on a regular basis.