This year, Sparrow Foundation School along with Charity Fusion and Rays of Hope established a bridging class for learners aged 6-8 coming from disadvantaged homes and who were unable to attend preschool. The bridging class focuses on learning through play and intends to prepare the children for Grade 1. This class was formed recognizing the need in providing a preparatory pathway for children, as a major challenge the Foundation School faces is that some children entering into the school have no previous form of schooling and children would often experience additional challenges in their first year of schooling, thus deterring them from moving to the next grade with ease. Therefore, a bridging class became the most suitable avenue for these children in order to support them and allow access to basic education, as well as, creating a safe haven and positive learning environment.
The main aim of the Bridging Class is to provide an opportunity for these children to further develop their skills and knowledge in a comfortable and happy environment where they feel encouraged and involved. With this in mind, Deputy Principal; Lindsay Stephen and the HOD of Foundation Phase, Maritza de Vries, developed a curriculum to suit the needs of the children by combining principles of Grade R and Grade 1. This tailored curriculum allows learning to be a practical approach whilst assisting with the language barriers and concentrating on specialized activities in developing the learners’ cognitive abilities and motor skills which will support them to gradually move into formal academic learning without feeling too overwhelmed. The hope of this class is to accommodate their needs so that they become self-motivated to learn, and to allow them the opportunity to apply themselves and expose their individuality so that they are able to build on their personal and academic skills. Not only is this class a means to provide a comfortable and safe pathway towards their education but it is an opportunity to help disadvantaged children by creating a safeguarded space where they feel worthy and appreciated.
The curriculum developed is based on building on prior knowledge, learning through play and specialised activities to assist with the children’s overall academic, behavioral and emotional development and will remain a fun and playful learning experience too; it focuses on fundamentals such as literacy and numeracy, computers, gospel and life skills. Life skills is a vital part of the curriculum in the development of young minds, concentrating on beginning knowledge, personal and social well-being, physical education and arts and craft. The idea of creating a safe environment also means keeping classes small and intimate, so it is centralized around each individual learner. Having dedicated, committed teachers and volunteers, Jessica Moore and Marleen contribute to the notion of having a schooling environment making learning fun.
This would be the first year for the Bridging Class and Sparrow is thrilled to bring new changes and be a part of these children’s educational journey and development. As time passes the idea for the class would be to allow the children an opportunity to continue their education with the correct fundamentals in place. At the end of term 3, the learners would have completed assessments which will be evaluated, thus determining if these learners would repeat or move onto Grade 1, but depending on the age of the learners, there might be a possibility to refer them to a more specialised needs school or training center.
Lastly, we believe the Bridging Class will be an integral part of Sparrow education and it will bring on momentous improvements not only for the children but the organization as a whole.