Lit­er­acy pro­gramme teaches the young to grow up smart

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODPOSTER - REBECCA JACK­MAN

LEARN­ING can be fun – that’s the mes­sage from the Grows­mart Lit­er­acy Pro­gramme which helps kids from all over Cape Town with their school work.

The pro­gramme brings out their own colour­ful and ex­cit­ing news­pa­per deal­ing with dif­fer­ent sub­jects such as maths, English and science ev­ery school term. They also run a spell­ing com­pe­ti­tion and this year kids from Grades 4 to 6 from 200 pri­mary schools have en­tered. The pro­gramme aims to im­prove lit­er­acy with­out be­ing bor­ing.

The schools were cho­sen by the Western Cape Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment. Each school chooses three of their star pupils to com­pete in the com­pe­ti­tion, which is now in its fourth year.

The Southfield Pri­mary School Grows­mart team is mak­ing their school proud and has made it through to the sec­ond round of the com­pe­ti­tion, down from 200 schools to just 40. Two of their team mem­bers, Kyle John­son and Matthew McGrath, both 12, say it took a lot of hard work to get there, but that it was a lot of fun, too.

Dur­ing the com­pe­ti­tion, the Grows­mart news­pa­per serves as a text­book and stu­dents in the com­pe­ti­tion are tested on over 400 words listed. Each edi­tion also sets tasks so pupils must go above and be­yond just learn­ing what’s on the pages.

Southfield teacher and men­tor Gina Lewis says the school is de­pend­ing on the com­mit­ment and ded­i­ca­tion to the pro­gramme of the two boys and their team­mate, Azra Lakay, 12, and re­serve Kayla Leonard 10. They also have to keep on top of all of their other school­work and af­ter school ac­tiv­i­ties.

She says: “They work so hard. When they’re fin­ished in class they’ll be sit­ting with their notes. We meet in the last hour of ev­ery day. I give my class work to do and then I’m run­ning be­tween them.”

But, she adds that it wouldn’t be pos­si­ble to get as far as they have with­out the help, com­mit­ment and sup­port of the par­ents.

Matthew wants to be an ac­coun­tant one day be­cause he loves maths and doesn’t mind hard work.

Kyle says he wants to be a chef be­cause his mom is such a good cook and he loves food, es­pe­cially pasta.

Matthew says he re­ally en­joys ques­tions about health, nu­tri­tion and food. Kyle agrees with all that, but he also loves learn­ing about the body, its skele­ton, breath­ing and how it all works.

Both boys have been cho­sen for the base­ball team next term, too, so they will be ex­tra busy.

Jewel Har­ris, spokes­woman for Grows­mart, says Growth­point Properties works with the Western Cape Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment to bring out the quar­terly news­pa­per. “It is colour­ful and fun, but it is also based on the school cur­ricu­lum and aimed at help­ing kids learn.”

She says the com­pe­ti­tion it­self isn’t just a spell­ing bee, but that the kids must show they have a full un­der­stand­ing of the words listed in the pa­per. They must say the word, define it and use it in a sen­tence. Some­times even the teach­ers and judges have to won­der how they would define a word so the teams have to re­ally know their stuff. They also have to an­swer ques­tions about maths, science and the body, de­pend­ing on what is in the lat­est edi­tion of Grows­mart.

“We try and cover as much as pos­si­ble .There should al­ways be some­thing in­ter­est­ing for all the kids. It’s great for teach­ers to work with in a class­room as well,” says Har­ris.

Ev­ery Grade 4 to 6 child in each of the 200 schools gets the quar­terly news­pa­per, even if the school is out of the com­pe­ti­tion. And schools that aren’t on the pro­gramme can get all the pre­vi­ous edi­tions on the Grows­mart web­site for free, too.

“The stan­dard and the com­pe­ti­tion be­tween the kids is in­cred­i­ble. They work so hard,” she says.

The fi­nals for the com­pe­ti­tion will take place on Septem­ber 7, the day be­fore World Lit­er­acy Day. Good luck to all the schools in­volved.

PIC­TURES: WILLEM LAW

BRAIN ATH­LETES: Kyle John­son, left, teacher Gina Lewis and Matthew McGrath, of Southfield Pri­mary School.

LEARN­ING FUN: Southfield Pri­mary is through to the sec­ond round of the Grows­mart Lit­er­acy Pro­gramme’s spell­ing com­pe­ti­tion which in­volves 200 pri­mary schools across Cape Town.

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