At Bushwillow, we use a thematic approach to cover the learning areas defined by the official South African CAPS (Curriculum Assessments Policy Statement). The setting of theme is guided by the children’s interests, so school exercises are offered in a way that triggers each child’s imagination. When exploring a theme, we apply our skills and knoweldge in a practical way. For instance, we practice maths when measuring the school gardens we are setting up, we practice language by learning Xhosa names for plants we are planting, and we improve our writing skills by writing an essay about an ancient civilisation that spark our interest.
Each learner not only learns differently; but also at his or her own pace. To accommodate this, children receive individual learning exercises. Together with their teacher, they set their own learning milestones. This means we do not conduct any standardised testing in our classes. The key benefit of this approach is that there is no need for drill, since children work concepts out for themselves.
We help children shape the curriculum by letting them share their interests by utilising these in approaching specific core subjects, such as writing, reading and maths. One tool we use for this is journalling, where children write down or draw observations, fascinations or questions at home, which we then discuss in the classroom.
Creating emotional and physical well-being
Mind and body work together, and we integrate physical activities in our school day to enhance the children’s physical well-being. Activities range from going on nature walks, doing ball games to relaxation exercises. To enhance the children’s social and emotional skills we do a lot of group work activities and reflect on social interactions and personal feelings with the children.