Sometimes all our children need is a splash of colour: how colour aids learning for children of all ages

According to a whitepaper published by the Malaysian Journal of Medical History, colour is believed to be the most visual experience to human beings.  And we agree.

Colour is critical for young children, and as they grow through each life stage, and pass through the schooling system, so they need to be taught to adjust how they make use of colour, to study and succeed.

We find that in the foundation phase (grades one through three), the younger learners have a predisposition to warm colours, and thrive in a warm environment.  The reds, yellows and oranges that make up the warm palette, showcase more energy, and are dynamic for the eyes.  They convey energy and movement, which is a reflection of the learners.  Children in the foundation phase, are generally used for an audience that is curious and inquisitive.

Intermediate and senior phase learners, that are made up of grade four and above, are are actually looking at cooler, more neutrally aligned colours like blues, greens.  We find that this helps with learning because they are calmer, more relaxed colours.  These colours also aren’t as distracting as the warm colours – and puts them in a good place especially for concrete learning and longer periods of focus.

Where many people go wrong, is that in their enthusiasm to introduce colour is an all or nothing approach.  It is not about splashing the colour everywhere, but finding balance and subtlety.  We encourage parents and teacher to either identify one wall that could be (for example) fire engine red, or opt for a more muted shade or tone of red, that puts the colour in the vicinity, without compromising its intention – to facilitate learning.

Consider choosing different shades of a particular colour, rather than opting for lots of different colours.  Too much colour can lead to children being over stimulated, especially in a special needs school or environment.  This can be quite distracting for the learners.

When it comes to studying, we have a couple of tips for using colour:

  1. General work day – direct learners´ attention to an object or topic – if there is an important information cue, or critical information in a picture, show this either as bolded content, or better yet, use a different colour.  
  2. Sometimes, when there are similar words close to one another, or a lot of different information on a page, we suggest breaking it up into different colours to help learners see this in a contextual block.  It improves readability for learners and assists with information retention..
  3. Especially in mathematics, colour provides useful symbol and function differentiation.  For learners that have visual perception or mathematical learning challenges, the numbers and symbols can sometimes blur together.  We encourage learners to write numbers in blue pen, and allocate a colour to each symbol (or function) so plus and minus signs in a bold colour like red or green.  It stands out – and there are fewer mistakes in the calculations.
  4. Because we are dealing with a 21st century, technology driven learner, we find that colour worksheets help in terms of alleviating boredom.  Learners have become accustomed to colourful, image driven content – blogs, youtube videos and image driven tools that are dynamic.  So their brains are stimulated by this type of dynamic content and PowerPoint presentations, delivered using colour projectors, have become a useful teaching aide
  5. Emotional expression is critical, especially in the younger grades, when children don’t always have have the vocabulary to express their feelings.  Using colour in their workbooks on in drawings, allows them to get that emotion out, but make sure you are clear on the context of what they are feeling.

There is no right age to introduce colour, but we would always suggest this happening as early as possible.  More important than introducing colour, is ensuring that as your child grows and progresses through their schooling career, so too does his/ her exposure to colour both as a visual and learning tool. But be specific – don’t just give learners a bag of crayons or coloured pencils and sit back and get a rainbow from them.

Provide your child with guidelines, on how best to integrate colour into their learning processes.  For example, pre-determine what colours you would like to be used to show the symbols (functions) in Maths.  When they are learning study skills, attribute a specific colour to certain content – for example, everything related to plants could be in green, keywords related to photosynthesis yellow.  

Assign a purpose to the use of colour, and specific colours for learning.

But also consider context and don’t automatically decide on the emotional connection of a colour, without asking a child first.  We had a child in class in the foundation phase, who was drawing houses, and friends and siblings beautifully, but all the images were dark – lots of use of black and brown crayons.  Parents and teachers were all called together, and a concern was expressed that this child was very depressed.  When the child was called in to ask about the drawings, he explained that he sat at the back of the class, so by the time the crayons got to him, the only colours left were the browns and blacks.  

While it is amusing to recall this example, it is a good reminder to also put colour use into context, ask the child and check that assumptions aren’t being made about their emotional state.

Because we believe in inclusivity and celebrating diversity, Sparrow Schools support the Color Run, and will be participating at the superhero color run in September in Johannesburg, after all, everyone covered in coloured powder looks the same!  If you’d like to feel  how happy colour can make you feel, and celebrate inclusivity, please join the Sparrow Schools team (click for more info) for the Color Run on 10 September 2017

Warren Thompson, Learning Support manager at Sparrow Schools. 

To sign up, email your details through to us: sparrow@mweb.co.za 

“Sparrow Foundation School helped my son so much, that he hates the weekend and all he says is, “I want to go to school today.”

I don’t think we have ever seen anyone with such a big smile,  early on Monday mornings,  like the smile on little Siyabonga Nkutha’s mom, Nozizwe’s face.

Sparrow Foundation School welcomed Siyanbonga to Grade 1 at the end of January, a few weeks after the rest of the learners had started the new academic school year

As a shy boy with autism, Siyanbonga had not been able to find a school that could support his special needs. But, one month in, we have all been surprised and delighted by how well he has settled into his new school.

“My son now hates the weekend, he always says  “I want to go to school today” but I have to explain to him that school is closed on weekends.

“At first Siyabonga used to cry as I left him to go to school, he was so anxious! However, a week later, his behaviour changed! He now plays with other children and tells me how much he loves to go to his beautiful school,” explains Nozizwe.

Siyabonga was referred to Sparrow Foundation School through a play therapy clinic in Sophiatown, where he was diagnosed with autism.  He previously attended a local school, which specialised in supporting children with ADHD but was not given the attention that he needed. Nozizwe explained how her son was often not in the classroom, as he was teased for being different and could not cope in a mainstream school.

We didn’t understand what was wrong with him and I had no idea what autism was.” Nozizwe told us that she found the Autism South Africa website extremely useful in providing her with information on autism. Autism, as defined by Autism South Africa (A;SA) is:

…a developmental disability… people with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely impaired.

Still a relatively unknown disability, Autism makes it difficult for parents, schools and communities to support children with special learning and social needs. However there is a lot of support available. 

Sparrow Schools, specialises in, and provides a safe and friendly environment for children with learning disabilities to attend school. The small classroom size and the learner support unit (LSU), which supports the child holistically, can provide additional assistance to help with remedial educational needs.

If you would like to find out more about your child attending Sparrow Foundation School, please call +27 11 482 3520.

Donate R60.00 to Feed-A-Child this Lent

Remember the last time you were VERY hungry? Imagine you are a small child who has left home at 5am to attend the closest remedial school in the area, which requires a 2 hour commute… Would you manage, sitting in a classroom and trying to learn important lessons such as literacy, numeracy and science. Having not eaten since the night before and won’t be eating again until later that evening?

Unfortunately this is a reality for some of the children at Sparrow Schools. Many children come from underprivileged backgrounds, care homes or child headed households.

Meet Dominique…

Dominique is a grade four learner at Sparrow Foundation School who is autistic and has ADHD. She travels over fifty kilometers alone from Tokoza to get to school and back home. Coming to school hungry, which is a problem, as she is already tired at school,  she cannot take her medication on an empty tummy…

Sparrow Schools has started the ‘Feed a child’ campaign. Helping children, like Dominique, is easily done, by donating food to Sparrow Schools feeding scheme or donating as little as R60.00 per month to feed a child and/or buy a lunch box.

Buying food in bulk keeps costs down, however still providing a variety of nutritious meals. Your contribution goes towards purchasing the following ingredients: Potatoes, Pasta, Pasta sauce, Maize Meal, Beans, Mince, Rice, Mixed Vegetables, Bread, Peanut Butter, cans of Tomatoes /Onions /Tuna, Brown Onion Soup.

Sparrow Schools ‘Feed A Child’ Lent Campaign will run from Wednesday, March 1st to Easter Sunday, 16th April 2017. 

DONATE TO FEED-A-CHILD

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are interested in donating, please email sparrow@mweb.co.za for the Feed-A-Child Form.

How the Teacher Exchange Programme between Dulwich Prep (London) and Sparrow Schools (Johannesburg) is changing lives

Kagiso Magano, Richard Bernhard  (Former Chairman of the Sparrow Schools Foundation, UK), Norval Petersen.

Boarding an aeroplane, and leaving South Africa for the first time in their lives, Kagiso Magano (English Teacher) and Norval Petersen (Science Teacher), two young and enthusiastic teachers from Sparrow Schools, flew to London, England on 24th November 2016. The teachers were selected to take part in the first Teacher Exchange Programme between Dulwich Prep (London) and Sparrow Schools (Johannesburg), as part of a teacher development and relationship building project between the two schools.

Norval and Kagiso spent two weeks at Dulwich Prep London, learning about the different teaching methods and resources at the school. It was also a great opportunity for the teachers to meet the UK Foundation Trustees and supporters based in and around London. The teachers spoke at assemblies and fundraising events to explain to donors how their money supports learners with special needs in Johannesburg. From the personal stories that the two men shared about the children they teach, the audience felt a deeper connection with Sparrow Schools, 5,500 miles away. Many pupils and teachers were shocked to hear about the lack of teaching resources at Sparrow Schools and have a renewed energy to support the school.

Dulwich Prep London have been long term supporters of Sparrow Schools and have visited the school in Melville, Johannesburg on several cricket tours over the years. Last year (October 2016), George Marsh, retired head teacher at Dulwich Prep and Founder of the Sparrow Schools Foundation, UK, visited Johannesburg for the first time since 2007 and saw how the money raised by Dulwich Prep and the UK Foundation has developed the school. The current head teacher at Dulwich Prep London, Michael Roulston, has continued the Dulwich-Sparrow relationship, with a particular interest in developing teaching methods and relations.

The teachers arrived back in Johannesburg full of enthusiasm to share their experience with the rest of the school. Two teachers from Dulwich Prep will fly to Johannesburg later in the year to spend time at Sparrow Schools to continue sharing teaching methods and developing relations between the two schools.

‘It was truly an amazing opportunity for us to learn, grow and exchange best teaching practices. The life long experience gained will never be forgotten.’ (Kagiso Magano)

‘It was an extraordinary experience for a South African educator to witness the advancement in teaching and learning practices at Dulwich Prep London.’ (Norval Petersen)

Thank you Michael Roulston for hosting Norval and Kagiso during their stay in London and Dulwich Prep London for sponsoring the two teachers flights in order to make this incredible opportunity a reality. We would also like to thank Dulwich for their ongoing support for Sparrow and we look forward to welcoming the teachers from Dulwich Prep soon.

 

Vuma supports Sparrow Schools with free fibre

What could be better than high-speed internet at Sparrow Schools to support our leaner’s education?! FREE high-speed internet!

A Big THANK YOU to Vumatel who partnered with Vox Telecom to provide Sparrow Schools with world-class internet. Vuma has sponsored Sparrow Schools with free uncapped open access fibre optic infrastructure, which will have fundamental impact on the children’s education. 

Vuma have announced it’s going to roll out free uncapped open access fibre optic infrastructure to schools in the area. For further information about Vuma’s project please visit their website: https://vumatel.co.za/news/vumatels-giving-schools-gigabit-internet-connections

If your company would like to help a local school that supports disadvantaged children with learning difficulties to gain a comprehensive education or would like to support skills development for young South Africans, please get in touch! Whether you need to get more benefits from what you spend on Skills Development or Enterprise & Supplier Development, or seek to do more with your Socio-economic and Corporate Social Investment budget, Sparrow FET College provides reliable and valuable solutions across the board.

For further information email joy@sparrowschools.co.za

Tips on when to test your children’s eyes

  • Regular eye testing on a yearly basis for children is important as their bodies develop quickly and change.
  • If you have a family history of eye problems it is always good for regular check-ups.
  • If your child is complaining of regular eye strain or unexplained headaches.
  • If there is any blurred vision after reading for short or prolonged periods.
  • If eyes become dry or itchy easily when reading.

Being able to see in the classroom is critical to learning, so if you suspect an issue do not delay.

 

Written by: Warren Thompson, LSU Manager at Sparrow Schools.

How you can help your child if you suspect drug abuse

Drug abuse is a serious social problem in South Africa, statistics recognise that drug abuse is even higher among youth. At Sparrow Schools we aim to prevent and stop the abuse. We do so by investigating and provide intervention when we suspect drug abuse.

Because drug abuse can lead to school dropout and other severe social problems we aim to inform parents and guardians about the possible signs and symptoms of drug abuse. Parents and guardians play a significant role in monitoring your child’s behaviour to ensure that they receive help as soon as possible. Possible signs and symptoms include:

  • Change in pupil (Dilated or constricted)
  • Red eyes
  • Sudden weight loss

If your child is also showing abrupt changes in their attitude, behaviour, habits and priorities they might be exposed to drug abuse. A more common indicator is if your child is also experiencing financial problems (pocket money often going missing) or start to become involved in criminal activity. From our experience learners experiment with social habits that are not as addictive as synthetic drugs. When the learners experience with these social habits such as ‘Hooka pipe’ ‘hubbly’ they don’t realise that the contents are combined with contraband. In most cases the content is mixed with Heroin or Methamphetamine.

If you suspect that your child could be involved with drug abuse, confront them in a neutral environment. Help your child understand why you are concerned by referring to suspicious behaviour and give them the opportunity to proof their innocence through a urine drug test. These drug tests are available at most pharmacies and is easy to use. As a social worker I encourage a drug-free society and encourage all parents and guardians to intervene if they suspect any abuse. More information on rehabilitation is available from http://www.sancanational.info/.

Does your child have difficulty hearing and understanding speech? Here are some explanations

What is an Auditory Processing Disorder?
Auditory processing disorder (APD) is often described as greater than expected difficulty hearing
and understanding speech even though no measurable hearing loss exists. Individuals with
Auditory processing disorders may act as though a hearing loss is present when in fact, hearing
sensitivity is often within normal limits.
A learner with APD may present with some of the following:
• Poor listening skills
• Difficulty following oral instructions or classroom discussions
• Frequently saying, “huh”, or “what?”
• Difficulty with phonics or letter-sound correspondences, sound blending, or segmentation
• Difficulty decoding unfamiliar words
• Poor spelling
• Slow fluency of reading
• Poor reading comprehension
• Difficulty understanding in the presence of background noise
• Poor attention, day dreaming, high distractibility
• Give slow or delayed responses to oral questions
• May be prone to behaviour problems due to frustration or boredom
• Avoidance of reading or other difficult task
Suggestions to assist a learner with APD
Encourage your learner to become a “detective” in finding strategies that work best for their
learning style. Ask them what works for them in the classroom and encourage them to self-monitor
as much as possible.

Some other ideas include:
• Writing directions on the board
• Preferential seating such as making sure the learner sits close to the front of the class
• Limiting background noise during desk work, or wearing ear plugs
• Presenting directions in short segments using visual cues if necessary
• Accommodating your learners longer response time by increasing waiting time so that you give
them a chance to process your instruction
• Asking the learner to repeat back what you said silently to themselves/to you
• Rephrasing and repeating what you have explained in simple sentences
• Maintaining structure and routine so directions are predictable
• Assigning a buddy to your learner so they can check their understanding with their buddy

 

By: Candice Tu, Speech-Language Pathologist

More about our Feeding Scheme… and how you can help

Currently the Foundation Feeding Scheme is providing lunch to seven to ten permanent learners per day and twenty additional temporary learners who we could add permanently once the project is more financially sustainable. The Foundation Feeding Scheme are currently providing the learners with a variety of spreads on low GI sandwiches along with a fruit and a juice.

The following menu would be the ideal meals to provide to the learners. It is divided in six days so that they don’t eat the same food on the same day each week.

Day 1 Soup

Bread rolls

Fruit

Juice

Day 4 Tuna and mayonnaise sandwiches

Fruit

Juice

Day 2 Chicken wrap lettuce

Mayo

cream cheese

Fruit

Juice

Day 5 Hot dogs

Fruit

Juice

Day 3 Fish fingers

smash

Fruit

Juice

Day 6 Fruit salad

Yogurt

Juice

It is a challenge at this stage to accurately determine the quantity of each product. The choice of weekly/monthly donations it’s entirely up to Nambikkai as we have the option to freeze the products to retain freshness.

Safety tip to teach your kids…

The world can sometimes be a scary place but we are able to prepare our kids to cope and make the best out of situations that might arise. Below are some handy things parents should focus on when teaching their kids about personal safety:

  • Tell your kids young: it is never to early to teach them about being safe.
  • Give clear guidelines such as “Never go home with anyone unless I have told you to first.”
  • Role play: Kid’s learn by doing so role play out some scenarios of how people may place your child in danger and how they can react.
  • Teach them to call for help from nearby adults.
  • Explain that “no one may touch their body in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable.”
  • Kids may not be used from running away from an adult as they are taught to listen to them. But it is okay to teach them they can run from someone who makes them feel unsafe.

Written by: Warren Thompson, Sparrow Schools LSU manager.