THE SMART CLUB
Beyond hunger, some learners experience further barriers to learning. Some of these include various visual or hearing deficits, or dyslexia and various language difficulties. The latter include those associated with autism; motor coordination or perceptual difficulties; or those who experience emotional disturbance associated with the trauma of abuse. A specific funding injection was received in August 2017 to support a pilot group of learners who have experienced emotional difficulties.
So, the Smart Club was born: Our aim is to fill the educational gaps which in many cases are undetected and not addressed.
The Smart Club now operates fully at both of our schools, helping to subsidize professional support for learners with a variety of learning difficulties, when parents/guardians are unable to afford such support due to a lack of funds.
Here are some of the areas in which we have assisted struggling learners. Unfortunately, funding levels may adversely affect our ability to offer these services on a regular basis:
Eye and hearing tests
Occupational and Speech and Language Therapy assessments and follow-up treatment sessions.
Play Therapy or Counselling for children traumatized by violence or loss
Assessments by a Paediatric Neurologist in cases of suspected Attention Deficit Disorder (with or without hyperactivity) or Autism Spectrum Disorder
Diagnosis of dyslexia by an experienced Educational Psychologist
Qualified Teaching of English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)
Specialised Learning Support in English and Maths.
To date, the Smart Club, despite a Covid and funding related break over 2020, has supported the learning of some hundreds of young learners at both Good Hope Seminary Junior and St Mary’s Primary Schools.
Occupational Therapy assessments and treatments by a registered practitioner, have assisted learners with developing fine and gross motor coordination, handwriting, focus in class and confidence in sport.
in 2019, TWO very young learners were diagnosed with epilepsy that was only picked up thanks to brain scans carried out under deep sedation by a Paediatric Neurologist. The correct medication has made the world of difference to these children’s ability to learn.
Numerous children’s eyesight and hearing have been checked and treated.
A Paediatric Psychiatrist has diagnosed at least 6 young children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity, and their subsequent use of medication to enable them to concentrate and learn has worked wonders.
We benefit from an arrangement with the School Nurse at New District Six Clinic for learners who require Ritalin to help them learn. These learners now receive this medication free of charge, monthly, from the Clinic
TEFL teaching built up the confidence of FIVE Intersen learners who grew up in Eastern Cape, Kwazulu Natal, Mocambique, and Tanzania . Those children now communicate much more freely and confidently with educators and peers. One Grade 7 learner is a Monitor who helps with Breakfast Club duties, is partially responsible for Gr R each morning.
Speech Therapy assisted THREE boys with inhibiting stutters to learn strategies to overcome this speech difficulty. More recently, , after many Speech Therapy sessions, a boy with severe autism has progressed beyond ‘echolalia’ (verbatim repetition without comprehension) to some spontaneous verbal communication that shows comprehension. OT has enabled him to write clearly and to colour in beautifully drawn Pokemon characters.
A little Grade R girl, who came to school as an optional mute, progressed to speaking fluently in English with one-to-one speech therapy. She then encouraged another little boy who lacked confidence in speaking.
A LETTER FROM A STUDENT'S PARENT
“I am very happy because it seems as if things are going well and we are looking forward to working with you. Thank you very much for your efforts and pushing us, explaining to us exactly how the medication works and why we need it [Ritalin]. Where we are from, these types of medications are still seen as a taboo so we just want to say thank you again for supporting and helping us.”
A transcribed voice message from the father of a grade two pupil, thanking the Good Start Trust for supporting them in obtaining the proper medications to ensure his child can reach their fullest academic potential.