When the work speaks!
For over a week we have been evaluating Grade R and Grade 1 learners in South Africa and reviewing the impact of a Rotary project – GG25244 – based on the Souns for literacy program. The 258 learners from seven classrooms are from three pilot sites: one in Pretoria and two in the township of Mamelodi.
The results are indelibly imprinted! Consider such comments from HOD’s as:
“You may come [to our school] any time you want. You are good for our children.”
“Thank you, Rotary, for Souns. It is helping our children read!”
“Our teachers are crying for this program.”
The children are the miracles: Imagine evaluations that are filled with giggles, slow, deep smiles of pride, jubilant jumps in the air, eyes glowing with joy that burn into your heart. All this happiness during individual assessments. Children are so excited about KNOWING!
What magic to hear a preschooler saying, “Can I read to you? Can I read to you?”
Then there is the sadness we see with learning issues or lack of support at home that delays progress. If a child does not learn letter sounds in preschool with 38-40 children in a classroom (one teacher), the child will not likely learn them in Grade 1 with 45-60 children in a classroom (one teacher) which is scripted to move much faster. After that we know how the pieces fall.
“Our system is supposed to be designed for the children, but that is not what we are doing.” says one. “Souns is helping us reach our children.”
While we have clearly inspired letter-sound learning through the Souns project for the typically developing child, we have so much to do for those children who are capable but unfold on a different time line. It is promising that one of the schools has begun a conversation to address this issue. We celebrate this possibility, particularly when the HOD’s exclaim, “Nothing is impossible! We must do what we need to do for our children.” This is change speaking!
Getting people to pay attention to how and when children learn best is the best outcome for any literacy project. This is the stuff of Souns through Rotary in South Africa. It is deeply rich and moving work.