The Bitou 10 Foundation in collaboration with Volunteering SA have implemented a new learner support programme for 80 Grade 3 learners at Phakamisani Primary School in Kwanokuthula.
Statistically, less than half of all Grade 3 children in South Africa can read at a satisfactory level. “Learning to read at this stage in life is vital as every child spends the first three years of their schooling learning to read and thereafter reading to learn,” said Pippa Ford, programme co-ordinator.
Forty volunteers from the greater Plett community have been trained by Pippa Ford, who was trained by the Shine Centre in Cape Town, to help children develop their reading and English language skills. Each volunteer works with two children at a time using a structured early intervention literacy programme, based on the model developed by The Shine Centre. They read to them and practice paired and shared reading. The children work with the volunteers for 30 minutes twice a week.
This programme is recognized and endorsed by the Western Cape Education Department as it has proven that trained volunteers can dramatically improve the literacy levels of children who experience difficulty with reading.
Music does more for children than bring them joy; it helps their brain cells make the connections needed for virtually every kind of intelligence. In August 2014, The Bitou 10 Foundation launched the Kindermusik programme for 200 children in Grade R and Grade 1 at seven local Primary schools: The Crags, Wittedrift, Formosa, Harkerville, Phakamisani, Kranshoek and Plett Primary. Children who require specialised support were selected to participate. Local Kindermusik educator and therapist, Cindy-Lee Schmidt, facilitated weekly sessions with these children in groups of 12.
Just 30 minutes a week of the “ABC Music and Me” programme has been proven to improve literacy levels by 32%. In addition to developing musicality, “ABC English and Me” teaches children basic English, which can change the lives of isiXhosa speaking children being educated in English. The Kindermusik curriculum is based on the research conducted by leading early childhood development experts, psychologists and neuroscientists. When young children are consistently engaged in music in an age-appropriate way they benefit on many levels. Music stimulates their physical, intellectual and social development.
Bitou educators are very excited about this new learner support programme that will not only assist children to overcome developmental delays but will also improve their listening skills, ability to concentrate, mother-tounge literacy, English and mathematics.
English and Reading
Our English and Reading programme is flourishing at Phakamisani Primary. The programme started in 2014 and has been so successful that it’s been extended to the new school, Kwanokuthula Primary, on request of the teachers.
This year the programme has over 70 volunteers helping and 380 children are now able to read, write and speak in English. Assessments were done in the second semester this year on the reading level of 77 children at the beginning and end of the second semester.
In total 425 children have been impacted by this programme to date.
Our Occupational Therapists treated 77 grade R children from 5 schools and 2 pre-schools in Bitou. The therapy sessions took place on a weekly basis until the end of the 3rd term and even though the task seemed challenging with the groups made up of 10 children, the results have astounded even the OTs. The final assessments showed the children’s motor coordination improved by 3%, visual motor improved by 9% and Visual perception improved by a whopping 17.5%!
Play and Art Therapy
Our Play and Art therapist have provided play and art therapy to 77 children who were experiencing emotional, social and behavioural challenges. The play and art therapy took place at three schools in Bitou; Phakamisani, Kranshoek and The Crags primary. During the play and art therapy sessions the children produced art pieces which expressed their fears, anger and joy. So many children go to these sessions feeling vulnerable but most, if not all, leave knowing how to dream. For too many of these children the one hour per week has been an escape from reality, for others it was an opportunity to connect with someone who cares about them. Teachers report they have seen improvement in the children’s self-esteem and that they have become more positive towards their school work.