Scielo RSS <![CDATA[South African Journal of Childhood Education]]> vol. 5 num. 1 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Teachers and the developing mind of the individual child</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Fostering pre-service teachers' motivation-related practical wisdom through a mentoring procedure</b>]]> This article Introduces a procedure aimed at fostering pre-service teachers' reflective thinking and practical wisdom and encouraging them to adopt a theory-based view of promoting learners' motivation while taking into account learners' different motivational profiles. The procedure is based on a study about the promotion of science-related motivation among students with different motivational orientations by employing an inquiry-based science teaching approach and out-of-school learning, as well as supporting learners' basic psychological needs, in order to provide relevant and meaningful conditions for learning. The procedure for pre-service teacher education encompasses lessons intended to familiarize student teachers with theoretical perspectives, authentic case studies of learners with different motivational orientations, support for lesson planning, and reflection on the implemented plans. The described procedure may be used in teacher education during mentoring sessions in practicum periods. <![CDATA[<b>The Nigerian Integrated Early Childhood Development Policy: Perspectives on literacy learning</b>]]> Many scholars and researchers now have a broadened vision of literacy that encompasses the social practices that surround literacy learning. What accompanies this vision is a shift towards thinking that children, and their families, can contribute actively to literacy learning by drawing on their strengths and life experiences to create and draw meaning from a broad range of everyday sources. For many, reading and writing from print-based texts is no longer considered the only, or most desirable, avenue to literacy learning. It Is now recognised that children's social and cultural lives should be used as a resource for literacy learning. Using four literacy learning lenses, we examine the Nigerian National Policy for Integrated Early Childhood Development. These lenses are: collaboration with families, the role of educators, literacy-rich environments, and diversity and multimodality. Recent research around early literacy learning underpins our analysis to identify where the policy could more strongly refer to the role of families and educators and to argue that there is scope for greater attention to early literacy learning in the policy. <![CDATA[<b>The role of working memory in childhood education: Five questions and answers</b>]]> Working memory is the mental ability to temporarily store and manipulate Information. Its functioning is distinct from the vast storage capacity of long-term memory and is crucial for optimal learning and development. There is considerable research on several theoretical aspects of working memory. Far less research has explored the application of such theory in order to understand how children perform in educational settings and to support and improve their academic performance. In this paper, five key aspects regarding working memory are considered and their implications for early childhood development, learning and education are discussed. These aspects include the role of the different components of working memory in early childhood learning, ways in which working memory is assessed in children, how verbal and visual working memory develop, how working memory difficulties manifest in children, and ways in which working memory can be improved. <![CDATA[<b>The school readiness performance of a group of Grade R learners in primary schools in the Gauteng Province of South Africa</b>]]> Grade R is the year before learners in South Africa start formal schooling and has been part of the General Education Training Band (GET) since 1998. New efforts are being made to enable all five- to six-year-olds to attend a Grade R class. The nine provinces of South Africa approach this problem in different ways. Some of them, like Gauteng, try to establish Grade R classes at primary schools, but in the process seem to appoint many teachers with only minimum qualifications. This article reports on research requested by the Gauteng Department of Education about the school readiness of Grade R learners. The school readiness performance of 114 Grade R learners was measured by means of a standardized school readiness test. The results confirmed the worst fears of department officials: most of the participants were not school ready after attending a year in a Grade R class. The article concludes with some recommendations, among others that attention should be given to the qualifications of teachers and that parents should become more involved. <![CDATA[<b>A retrospective case report on demographic changes of learners at a school for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders in the Gauteng Province</b>]]> Limited research has been published about the demographic characteristics of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in South Africa. Describing the profiles of learners from a school for children with ASD may contribute to local knowledge in the field. A retrospective comparative design was utilised to compare the demographic characteristics of learners over two time intervals: 19922002 (Group 1, n=32) and 2003-2014 (Group 2, n=109). A total of 141 historical admission records in paper-based files were reviewed. Results indicated that there is a large male gender bias (8.4:1) in learners, which increased over the years. The age of the child when parents first became concerned and the age at diagnosis and assessment at school increased over both time periods. There was also an increase in the diversity of home languages after 2002. Parental qualifications decreased, but social class improved in recent years. The low qualification of a mother was associated with an advanced age of the child at school entry. The data serves as a point of reference for future studies about the characteristics of school children with ASD in South Africa. <![CDATA[<b>The South African national school curriculum: Implications for collaboration between teachers and speech-language therapists working in schools</b>]]> This critical review addresses the Implications of the Curriculum and Assessment Plan Statement (CAPS) for collaboration between teachers and speech-language therapists (SLTs) in schools. A historical perspective on changes in the roles and responsibilities of SLTs is provided, reflecting a shift from supporting the child to supporting the teacher. Based on the role of SLTs and audiologists in schools, an innovative approach to the support of teachers is conceptualized. The curriculum content and methods support learners who experience challenges and barriers to learning in main stream classrooms. The implementation of the curriculum necessitates close collaboration between teachers and SLTs in order to ensure the best possible outcomes for all learners. This collaboration is reviewed by identifying the benefits of, and barriers to, the process, as well as crucial areas of collaboration. Inclusive education is mandated by White Paper 6, and collaborative support of teachers by SLTs is presented from the learners' perspective within the context of the curriculum. An example of teacher support through the response to intervention (RTI) approach is described. <![CDATA[<b>Music education in the Grade R classroom: How three teachers learned in a participatory action inquiry</b>]]> The contribution of music education to the holistic development of the young learner is uncontested. However, in South Africa, the vast majority of Reception Year (Grade R) teachers do not have the required competences to teach music in ways that optimally enhance the holistic growth of their learners, as this aspect has been largely neglected during their pre-service and in-service training. In this paper, we report on a year-long intervention aimed at enabling three Grade R non-music specialist teachers at one urban township school in the Eastern Cape to create music-based learning opportunities for their learners. We employed a participatory action learning and action research (PALAR) approach to the inquiry, which combines research with development. Our findings indicate that after a series of collaborative interactions, the participants started to explore and tap into their own musical competences. They revisited notions of the self as (ill-)equipped, (un)confident, (in)competent and (in)dependent music teachers, and began to assume autonomy and agency with regard to effective music education in the Grade R classroom. We consequently argue that under-qualified in-service teachers can be enabled to improve their practice through research interventions that stimulate maximum participant involvement, such as PALAR. <![CDATA[<b>Visual arts and the teaching of the mathematical concepts of shape and space in Grade R classrooms</b>]]> This article addresses the need for research in the areas of Grade R curriculum and pedagogy, Grade R teacher professional development, and early years mathematics teaching. More specifically, it responds to the need for teacher professional development in Grade R mathematics teaching of the geometric concepts of space and shape. The article describes a study about teachers' understanding of how visual arts can be used as pedagogical modality. The study was prompted by the findings of a 'Maths and Science through Arts and Culture Curriculum' intervention undertaken with Grade R teachers enrolled for a Bachelor of Education (Foundation Phase) degree at a South African university. Post-intervention, teachers' classroom practices did not change, and they were not using visual arts to teach mathematical concepts. The lessons learned from the research intervention may contribute to the wider debate about Grade R teaching and children's learning. <![CDATA[<b>Assessment literacy of foundation phase teachers: An exploratory study</b>]]> This study explores foundation phase teachers' assessment literacy, and their understanding and use of formative and summative assessment. Using questionnaires, observations and interviews, data were obtained from Grade 1, 2 and 3 teachers from a school each in quintile 2, 3 and 5. Teachers from all three schools demonstrated equally low levels of assessment literacy. While understanding of summative assessment was noticeably higher, all teachers demonstrated very poor understanding of formative assessment. Notwithstanding the small sample size, the study highlights the need for professional development programmes to focus on enhancing teachers' assessment literacy. It also calls for additional research on a conceptualisation of assessment literacy that is relevant to South African teachers, and for determining the impact of concepts and practices advocated in the national assessment and curriculum policies on teachers' use of assessment to address the learning needs of all learners across schools in the different quintile categories. <![CDATA[<b>Exploring the complexities of describing foundation phase teachers' professional knowledge base</b>]]> The purpose of this paper is to engage with the complexities of describing teachers' professional knowledge and eventually also their learning through written tests. The bigger research aim is to describe what knowledge foundation phase teachers acquired during their two years of study towards the Advanced Certificate of Teaching (ACT). We designed a written test to investigate the professional knowledge that teachers bring with them when they enrol for the ACT, with the aim of comparing their responses to the same test two years later, when they had completed the programme. The questionnaire included questions on teachers' content knowledge; their pedagogical content knowledge (in particular, teachers' knowledge about learner misconceptions, stages of learning, and ways of engaging these in making teaching decisions); and their personal knowledge (such as their beliefs about how children learn and barriers to learning). It spanned the fields of literacy in English and isiZulu, numeracy, and general pedagogy. Eighty-six foundation phase teachers enrolled for the ACT at the University of KwaZulu-Natal completed the questionnaire, and their responses pointed us to further methodological issues. We discuss the assumptions behind the design of the test/ questionnaire, the difficulties in formulating relevant questions, and the problems of 'accessing' specific elements of teacher knowledge through this type of instrument. Our process shows the difficulties both in constructing questions and in coding the responses, in particular concerning the pedagogical content knowledge component for teachers from Grade R to Grade 3. <![CDATA[<b>Stories of change: The case of a foundation phase teacher professional development programme</b>]]> The study reported in this article responds to the need for empirical studies that provide evidence of positive change in education at the micro-level of the classroom -an important component of the complex education environment in South Africa. This article describes teachers' and principals' reports of micro-level changes that occurred during a professional development programme for foundation phase teachers at a South African university. An overview of the principles underpinning the programme design and implementation is given, followed by a description of the qualitative research design and grounded theory methodology used to research changes in the practices of teachers participating in the programme. The study provides evidence of changes in the classroom and professional practice of the teachers, aligned with changes in academic practice and children's learning in the classroom. We argue that the programme's strong orientation to practice, its focus on teachers' understanding of children, and the model of teacher professional development that is located in reflexive practice together may have facilitated positive changes in the teachers' practices.