Learning through real experiences

There is no better way to learn than to actually physically get involved with the task at hand. This year, our tremendous teachers have spent a significant amount of time building our cultural learning areas to fully incorporate, not only gross, fine motor, language and mathematical development, but to improve our children’s living skills as well.

Having children with sensory and physical challenges, we very often have special visitors coming through to the school to allow the children to experience first-hand what we are discussing in pictures or through short video clips. This year we had our amazing ‘Paws for People’ puppies come and visit us again. This integrative experience not only enhances our academic goals but also allows us to see the developing maturity in the children. Some, who a year ago wouldn’t come near a dog (Connor McFerren), would be found sitting quietly reaching a hand out for a stroke while the more enthusiastic others (Anthony Ndlovu) managed to keep themselves composed and not crumple in despair when it was time for the dogs to depart. The most significant lesson is how the children are able to show that their tolerance to different creatures can grow and they are able to develop a trust relationship that over time can only be strengthened.

Cute puppies haven’t been our only adventures though. This year we had a record turnout at our Frog hunt, hosted by the BOTSOC group at the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens. We had perfect weather that evening and our enthusiastic explorers included the Wallace, Pelser, Boult, Smulders and Ruffels families, to name a few. Everyone came kitted out with blankets, torches and a tracking spirit. We had a short talk on the local frogs and toads and then we were off, with Anika having a good giggle at every croak. This year we saw a whole host of little amphibians, what a wonderful night out.

Hot on the frog’s tails we had a very special visitor bring through gorgeous reptiles who ranged from a small bearded dragon to a rather large python. This year we had a mix of reactions – our littlies, Muku and Abie in particular, couldn’t resist trying to grab the very long, very flickery tongue of the magnanimous iguana. Our older, far more demure teenage girls, on the other hand, were having absolutely nothing to do with the scaly critters. Even the surprise ferret was too much for the girls.

While we make every effort to integrate our children’s knowledge of the world around them through pictures, ‘I Spy’ Games, Nomenclatures and Story books, there is still no substitute for the real thing. What fun our children have had broadening their horizons and vocabularies through their cultural studies.