Literacy programme teaches the young to grow up smart
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.
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.