We had interest from the Western Cape Education Department regarding the Souns programme and when I met with them they were interested to know the outcomes already achieved with the programme. Being so new, we have had to build that up.
The schools that KET work with are all ECD facilities (6 months to 6 years) and therefore we also introduced Souns to the Grade R classes of our Government schools in the Townships with tremendous response. The teachers find the programme easy to use themselves once they have had proper training, and due to the nature of working in small groups (individual attention and fun), the implementation with the children is 7-10 minutes with up to eight learners, is attainable, assessable, progressional, and is a win win for the everyone. With this ‘recipe’, the groups are quickly established and the teacher keeps the pace of each group, so that all children are accomplishing knowledge gain and therefore are receiving praise that encourages them, and their hunger for knowledge is sustained. It is incredible to witness and with the footage collected of which I am sure Brenda has shown you some, the evidence is overwhelming. The biggest consideration is the realization that not all teachers will use Souns as prescribed, and therefore the progress with the programme is affected, however in saying this, they are still making tremendous progress, (thus the idea of Souns workshops with groups of teachers from the same area on a quarterly basis or so has proved to be very worthwhile). These learners are now in Grade 1 and I am set to meet with the staff in March and have permission to carry out continuous assessment with a group of learners. The Grade 1 teachers at two of these schools have also received Souns sets to continue in the Grade 1 year with the programme.
We also received interest from individuals and advantaged schools around Knysna and we held an information workshop to demonstrate the programme. The most excited teacher in the group was an Afrikaans Grade 2 teacher at a Government school, who shared that with poor foundations, she had several children who could not spell. She was desperate to get hold of the programme in order to teach letter sounds and then allow the children to build the words manipulating Souns and then copy these built words into their books. Here, the teacher has to put the programme into her budget and then wait for approval.
I have no doubt that the Grade classes in the foundation phases of the schools that you are involved with will benefit highly with the use of the programme, especially in light of the what / if any stimulation was given at ECD level.
On the other hand, there are a some foundation phase teachers who have issues with the letter shapes for early literacy – these are counteracted by evidence that proves otherwise, however, it does cement the idea that this programme was indeed intended for the littlest of hands, from 6 months onwards. Please know this, that Souns will impact the literacy skills of children of any age and provides an opportunity for learning through play and using their senses – the best way to learn by far!
I hope that this has given you more of an idea, or shed a little more light. Please feel free to contact me at any time.
Regards, Annette Nelson Education Co-Ordinator / Mentor Knysna Education Trust wwwknysnaedutrust.co.za