Jade, a very successful volunteer from two years ago, has been wishing to go back to the school to do some training with the Early Years teachers for sometime.
Jade’s comments prior to leaving were as follows:
The training will focus on the early years’ teachers; specifically baby and middle class. Currently much of the teaching taking place in these classrooms is rote learning. Whilst this undoubtedly has its strengths, it can mask large gaps in understanding. For example, in one class the teacher was talking about animals that the children see at the market; she chanted, ‘’Donkey, goat, chicken’’ whilst pointing at pictures on the board and the children chanted it back. However, when, later in the same day they were asked to name animals at the market they were unable to do so. Rote learning does not use open questions or independent learning and, whilst this works well for specific knowledge such as timetables, it fails to embed more nuanced knowledge.
I am going to use the recently published government document ‘Development Matters’ concerned with early years education as a loose framework. The aim is not to transpose the English curriculum directly on to the Kenyan one. It is to use a more flexible approach whilst still meeting the attainment targets expected. As an example, learning to count to five is a common objective of both curricula. Rather than learn purely by rote a child could be given a blank piece of paper and asked to draw around her hand. Once this is done the children can write numbers 1 – 5 in order on each finger. This builds number order and recognition, reenforces the link between amount and numeral (the number five goes on the 5practices numeral writing. It allows for easy differentiation since more able children can draw round both hands and go up to ten. It also means children can cut out the hands afterwards, practising fine motor control and allowing them to have something concrete to show which they can either take home or use to decorate their classrooms.
The training will focus on key areas:
• The classroom as an enabling environment
• Incorporating more interactive approaches to meeting learning objectives
• Assessing, planning and basic differentiation.
• Resourcing in a more interactive way with basic materials.