By Regina Broenner – Stanford Project Coordinator and Occupational Therapist
Stanford Creative Works was created in 2012 to service the under-resourced community of Stanford (Western Cape), providing purposeful, positive and engaging activities for children to counteract negative influences, such as drug-taking in young children and early school drop-outs. We started the workshop in the community, inviting children to engage in creative activities, craft projects, outings and have since developed a wonderful group who attend the creative workshops on a weekly basis.
By observing the children in the workshops, I realized that many have not developed the necessary base skills to engage in creative and school-related activities, such as holding a crayon efficiently or using tools like a scissor. After seeing the need for learners (especially at the foundation phase) to develop a strong skill set for further learning, we started to offer small workshops in a school setting at the local primary school. We are working with the teachers at the school to give the learners the best possible support in school-related tasks.
In 2015, we started our first Stanford Creative Works skills development group at Die Bron School and The Star literacy program gave us use their room to conduct the grade 1 skills development group once a week. We had two groups of five learners (5 Xhosa /5 Afrikaans speaking learners), which was suggested by the teachers for special intervention as they were struggling in the classroom.
The aim is to develop skills needed in the classroom, such as fine and cross motor skills, concentration, visual perception, concept formation (learned in creative activities in small groups) and to give the kids an opportunity to develop their social skills.
Here are some impressions from the groups:
One of our themes was healthy eating so we gave the children a sensory experience with the blind tasting of fruit – some that they knew and some that was foreign to them, like kiwi. The kids also painted the fruit and we focused on the letter “a” for apple/appel.
We did lots of painting, cutting, pasting and beading as well as group games throughout the year. Each child made their own vowel book with sensory letters as the class had the vowels in the class room and the kids were struggling to retain and sound out the letters correctly.
The sessions always start by working together in group games, which is a fun way to build up social skills and group spirit.
In 2016, we are extending the skills development groups by offering three groups a week for Grade 1 and 2 learners. We also continue to run the open workshop in the Stanford community, which is on offer for all children in the area.
Thank you to Star Literacy for the collaboration.
Stanford Creative Workshops – in the community
We conduct workshops each week at the Anchor church in the community where our community mothers are dedicated and there is great team spirit.
Our decision to conduct smaller groups in order to reach the children has worked out well. We will continue the small groups as they allow us to build individual relationships which, in turn, support focused skills development.
The OT / School Readiness Program
The School Readiness Program was conceptualized from the observation that many learners in Grade R have not developed the necessary base skills for their school entry in Grade 1.
Children need to be exposed to adequate learning and play activities in order to be ready for school and develop their confidence and skills further.
The OT/ School Readiness Program aims to assist learners and teachers in the grade R environment with small group interventions and teachers support in the class room. Each child is treated according to their individual needs and developmental age. The aim is to prepare the Grade R learners for their school entry and provide assistance for special needs learners through age-appropriate, fun activities.
The School Readiness Program and the SCW programs are run by Regina Broenner – they interlink and complement each other. The School Readiness Program is sponsored by the Carss foundation.
We have three dedicated volunteers, all of whom are teachers and occupational therapists who work one-on-one and through small group interventions. Broenner coordinates the program, working with small groups of children inside and outside the classroom.
The children are suggested for intervention at the beginning of the year by the class teachers, assessed and then put into one on one or small group sessions. The sessions are conducted from the STAR literacy room weekly.
The overall theme and focus is for the learners to develop conceptual knowledge and understanding as well as underlying base skills such as Fine/Cross and perceptual skills for entry into the Grade 1 environment.
The program started in 2014. It has been wonderful fun to work with all the beautiful children at Die Bron primary.
Thank you very much to the Carss foundation for funding and supporting the OT/ School Readiness Program.
Thank you to Die Bron School for accommodating and collaborating with us. We are excited that Die Bron has made available an extra room available for use to use for the program in 2016.