Look, I can read

Twelve pre-schoolers from Roodepoort in Gauteng have silenced sceptics by learning to read in just four weeks. The children, aged five and six, are in Grade R at Kings School and were selected to participate in a four-week programme developed by a company specialising in literacy programmes.

Teachers at Kings School spent about half an hour a day playing games with the children. After a week, the children were able to read three-, four- and five-letter words, as well as short sentences.

“The results we achieved in the 15 hours we spent with these children are remarkable,” says Michael Tellinger, managing director at The Brain Food Company. The programme, which is in line with OBE, will help children to read and speak English.

The games, which can be played by two to six children at a time, help children interact with each other while playing. The basic rules of English grammar are worked into the games. The first games, Sound Detectives and Adventure Phonics and Master English and the English Game, were developed about three years ago.

“I made the first cards and sent them to a couple of schools. The teachers then recommended changes and we noted their suggestions,” says Vivianne Downing, training and development director at the company.

According to a report on the foundation phase released by the Department of Education last year, only 58% of children go to pre-primary school before going to Grade 1. The result is that many learners are not prepared for Grade 1.

Six-year-old Brandon Erasmus, one of the Grade R learners who took part in the four-week programme, took a school-readiness test earlier this year. The results indicated that he was not ready to go to school. Upon completing the programme, Brandon took another test and passed.

Musician, actor and TV-show host Zola has sponsored the programme for six schools. Schools shouldnt be about blackboards and chalk. “Let kids do what they want to do and not what the education system wants,” says Zola.

He believes that the programme will help learners make a success of education, especially in rural areas where he says the standard of education is lower. The board games have also been adapted for adults who wish to learn how to read. The board games will be available in Afrikaans and Zulu, and translations into other languages are also under way.