The class with a difference
If you talk to any of the children Sonia Rova has ever taught they will tell you how they have hatched chickens and had farm animals in their classroom.
‘‘If we don’t teach kids to nurture animals, how to we expect them to nurture each other?’’ Rova said.
This is one of the many lessons the new entrant teacher at Stratford Primary School in Central Taranaki teaches in her sustainable, play-based, technology-free classroom. Rova and Melissa Stone teach room 13 the new entrant classroom - and focus on play-based learning and transitioning children from kindergartens, to school, to real life.
‘‘I’ve done a lot of research around the development of the brain,’’ Rova said. ‘‘We want them to be sustainable learners in the 21st century. They need to be creative, they need to be able relate to others, and every day this situation is setting them up to be that.’’
The classroom is made up of regifted and recycled items.
Rova and Stone said this gives the children the opportunity to use their imagination. Last week they brought in a wooden box on a post with a slit in it - potentially a post box.
‘‘They spent the whole day going around and around the room working out what they could post and how they could get it out,’’ Rova said.
‘‘Doing that shows them different ways, instead of us saying ‘the only thing that can go in there is letters’,’’ Stone added.
‘‘It’s obviously about creating pathways in the brain. The children in their play are learning how to play with each other but they’re also trying all these things to be creative,’’ Rova said.
This is the first time Rova has put her all into play-based teaching - which still includes reading, writing and math.
‘‘I went to the principal and the board,’’ she said. ‘‘I showed them all the research, I showed them all the enviroschool links, so they said ‘yes, just get creative with how you do your hand writing, how you do your story writing’.’’
And that she did - ‘‘hand writing is actually some days in the sand pit and some days we’ve got water pistols and we’re doing the formation of lettersl,’’ Rova said. ‘‘We’ve got chalk and we’re on the walls because they’re choosing what they want to do, and that’s their choice all day.’’
Thomas Callingham, Karlos Robinson and Leighton Harris and Paprika the dog are full of smiles in Room 13 at Stratford Primary School.