“I learn from TV. SpongeBob [Squarepants] can write – he can’t drive, but he can write.”
These are the words of six-year-old Thato who started Grade 1 today – and is not yet convinced that school can teach him more than the popular TV cartoon character can. Thato is one of 26 learners in the Grade 1 class at the Rand Preparatory School in Johannesburg.
His favourite time of the day is when they go out to play. He has an older sister in Grade 2 and doesn’t want her to help with homework, he says.
Daniela, one of Thato’s class mates, says her favourite activities at school are drawing and colouring. Adian likes numbers.
The learners come from different backgrounds and face various challenges, says Christine Cumbeland, their teacher.
One of her pupils, Sbusiso*, has Type 1 diabetes and takes insulin injections every day. He says: “It is not nice to have it because I can’t eat sweets and buy stuff from the tuck shop.”
Sbusiso is happy that it does not prevent him from participating in his favourite sports – soccer and basketball. He wants to be a policeman when he grows up, he says, because he likes their uniforms.
Cumbeland has been teaching lower primary for over 40 years.
With the children being as young as four years old she believes “physical education plays a major role in their learning process,” and she encourages parents to get their kids’ ears and eyes tested as they are key to the child’s learning progress.
“The children are a bundle of joy and I love working with them,” she says.
*Not his real name.