SounsAfrica From the field What a day!

SounsAfrica From the field What a day! We visited three preschools, evaluated students, reviewed good practice with teachers and volunteers, and assessed overall progress with the Souns program.

During this March visit to the schools in Knysna, we are focusing primarily on Grade R students, as they are in the first quarter of their school year and are readying for entering Grade 1 in January 2012. The Souns program prepares children with a solid base of letter-sound knowledge and a comfort with sounding out three letter phonetic words at the conclusion of Grade R. Such preparation will arm these children well for success in Grade 1. Our next evaluation of the work will be this September.

We are delighted with the progress we observed. Bright faces beaming with enthusiasm as they identify letter-sounds. Wide, gleeful eyes as they surprise themselves sounding out individual words we wrote with the Souns letters on the mat in front of them. Whether learning the letter-sound associations for Afrikaans, English, or Xhosa the preschoolers demonstrated great strides through the Souns program. The caregivers, volunteers, and mentors from Knysna Education Trust deserve kudos for their tireless efforts for these children and their integrity with this program.

One little boy was a lesson for us. He was amongst the oldest preschoolers; but, when identifying letter-sounds he was impulsive and made more mistakes than the others. I was concerned about his comfort sounding out words. WOW! I was so wrong. As each word was placed in front of the small group of children, he exploded with joy as he found he was able to sound out each word – correctly. His grin reached from ear to ear as he realized he could “read.” Such errors in judgment are too often because we don’t trust in the child….they are capable and they want so badly to succeed. What a miracle awaits in each one of them. What a lesson each one of them is for us. This has been such a promising day….and tomorrow awaits.

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