I hear that the South African curriculum is changing again. When is this happening and what does that mean for my child?
The Department of Basic Education is in the process of finalising and launching a refined curriculum called the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (commonly refered to as CAPS). This curriculum will be implemented in Grade R to 3 in 2012; in Grade 4 to 6 in 2013; and in Grade 7 to 9 in 2014. The main difference between this version of the curriculun and previous versions is that it is very specific about the order in which content and skills should be taught to children. It also specifies what content should be taught in what school term. The structure of this curriculum is simpler and easier for teachers to interpret.
Should my child be doing extra work at home?
When the South African National Department of Education launched its Foundations for Learning Campaign there was a strong focus on the role of parents in their child’s education. Your child’s teacher cannot give your child the attention that you can give them at home. Recently provincial education departments have been sending letters to parents asking them to help their children practise their skills, especially in Numeracy and Literacy. Because Smart-Kids workbooks are written by South African teachers according to the curriculum, they are an ideal way for you to help your child practise the right skills at home.
Will I be able to use Smart-Kids workbooks with my child at home even if I know nothing about teaching or the curriculum?
We designed Smart-Kids so that parents could feel confident to help their children learn at home. We know that most parents aren’t teachers and need workbooks that are simple and easy to follow. We’ve built in some special features so that you’ll know exactly what kind of skill your child is practising on each page. And to help you even more we’ve provided all the answers and extra notes and tips at the back of each book. In addition Smart-Kids workbooks provide a collection of your child’s achievement so you can see exactly what your child can do and where he or she has difficulty. And you’ll be able to measure your child against the requirements of the curriculum.
How can I get involved in my child’s education?
Parents play a crucial role in the education of their children, particularly in the early years of development. A close, open relationship between home and school will have a positive impact on the development of your child. Teachers have noticed that the greater the involvement of parents in their child’s education, the better the child’s attitude and achievement at school. This level of involvement is increasingly difficult for working parents, but it is still possible. Here are some tips for remaining involved in your child’s education: Make sure you attend parent-teacher meetings to discuss the progress of your child. Difficulties can be addressed and action plans implemented, both at home and at school. Support the decisions that your child’s teacher makes to create consistency for your child. If you disagree with the teacher, discuss this with the teacher without your child being present. Never discuss your child’s progress with the teacher in front of the child. These discussions should take place privately and at a scheduled time. Show an interest in your child’s homework. Make sure you understand exactly what your child needs to do. Offer support, but never do your child’s work for them. When asking your child to do extra work (such as Smart-Kids), make sure it is fun and enjoyable and never expect them to work for longer than 20 minutes at a time. Attend school events in order to show your support for their child. Visit the school if you can and help with reading groups or fundraisers. Your child will really appreciate your involvement in their lives. Read to your child and talk to them about their day.
What are PIRLS and TIMMS and why are they in the news so much?
These are international surveys taken every few years to determine how well children are doing in Literacy and Mathematics. PIRLS stands for Progress in International Reading Literacy Study. The last time South Africa participated in PIRLS in 2006 the results showed that South African children faired the lowest in Literacy out of all the countries in the world. The study found that on average South African children read their home languages about 4 years behind children in other parts of the world. South African children scored 100 points lower than the “low” category in the study. TIMMS stands for Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study. The last time South Africa participated in TIMMS in 2003, the results showed that South African children again faired the lowest in the world and far below the international average. The South African National Department of Education is determined to improve the levels of Literacy and Mathematics in South Africa. One of the ways they are doing this is by introducing the Foundations for Learning Campaign which sets out in detail what children in Grades 1 to 3 have to achieve in each school term.
What is the Foundations for Learning Campaign?
The Department of Education launched the Foundations for Learning Campaign to improve the performance of South African children in Literacy and Numeracy. The Foundations for Learning document sets out the knowledge and skills (called “milestones”) that each child needs to achieve in each school term. Your child’s teacher will be assessing how well your child meets these milestones each term. We have designed all the Smart-Kids workbooks according to the Foundations for Learning milestones so that each workbook follows the exact sequence of work that your child will be encountering in the classroom.
What is the National Curriculum Statement?
The South African curriculum is called the National Curriculum Statement or NCS. It is designed to help each child reach their potential and sets high expectations of what South African children should achieve in each grade in each learning area (subject). The Smart-Kids series is written according to the learning outcomes and assessment standards of the National Curriculum Statement. The activities in Smart-Kids workbooks give your child the opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills in the key learning areas of Languages and Mathematics.
What is a learning outcome?
The learning outcomes identify the broad knowledge, skills and values required for each of the learning areas. Learners must achieve these learning outcomes by the end of the General Education and Training phase (Grades R to 9). Learning outcomes describe what learners should know and be able to do in a clear and understandable way. Learning outcomes are divided into a number of grade-specific assessment standards.
What is an assessment standard?
Each learning outcome is divided into a number of assessment standards. A different set of assessment standards is prescribed for each grade. The assessment standards describe the minimum level at which learners should demonstrate their achievements of the learning outcomes in each grade.
What is Literacy?
In Grades R, 1, 2 and 3 the subject that develops children’s language ability is called Literacy. In Literacy children develop their language ability by listening to and interacting with others in their environment. They practise, develop and perfect their language skills through play, stories, and interacting with the world around them. Literacy development involves a gradual process of improving various language-related skills. Mistakes are a natural part of a learning process. Your child’s literacy skills will develop as they are given the opportunities to use and develop them. The core language skills that form part of Literacy are listening, speaking, reading, writing, understanding and language skills (spelling and grammar).
How do I create an environment at home that encourages my child to read?
Studies have shown that children read better when they have access to a variety of printed material at home. Collect newspapers, magazines, brochures and flyers. Ask your child questions about the different kinds of reading material. Join your local library and take books out regularly. Buy second-hand books if new books are beyond your budget. Create a mini-bookclub with other parents and swop books. Write your own stories if you can, using your own photographs or cuttings from magazines. Read to your children - even once they can read themselves. This develops a lifelong love of reading.
What is Numeracy?
Numeracy is the name of the subject that teaches Mathematical skills to children in Grades R to 3. There are five main areas in the Numeracy curriculum: Numbers (counting and calculations) Patterns (identifying and creating patterns) Space and shape (shape, symmetry, direction, position of objects) Measuring Using and interpreting data (collecting, displaying, analysing and interpreting data) We have included many different kinds of numeracy activities in our Smart-Kids workbooks. Some activities offer drills and practise in calculations; other activities include word problems and investigations that are needed for your child to develop and display an understanding of mathematical concepts.