Children who have experienced pre-primary education are more equipped with early numeracy and literary skills.
Children who have experienced pre-primary education are more equipped with early numeracy and literary skills.

Why should your child attend Grade R?

By Michelle Lorber Time of article published Mar 10, 2021

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Children who have experienced pre-primary education are more equipped with early numeracy and literary skills.

A lack of pre-primary education prior to starting Grade 1 could put children at a disadvantage that they may never fully regain, according to a 2019 report by Unicef.

The report finds that children who have experienced at least a year of pre-primary education are more likely to develop the critical skills they need to succeed in school and are less likely to repeat grades or drop out of school later in their school career.

They are also more equipped with early numeracy and literary skills. Unicef Executive Director Henrietta Fore has called on government leaders to prioritise and resource pre-primary education to ensure their future workforces are competitive.

A pre-primary environment and education assist children in tackling trauma by providing them with structure, a safe location in which to learn and play and an opportunity to communicate their emotions.

Bailey Thomson Blake, chief of schools at independent private school network SPARK Schools, says Grade R teaches important social skills, problem-solving and a familiarity with routine and procedures that set the child up for the rest of their school life.

“Every year, we see children come straight into Grade 1 without any pre-primary education, and it’s notable that many of these learners struggle far more than their peers. That’s why I strongly recommend that parents consider Grade R as a preparatory step towards formal education,” says Thomson Blake.

She says there are four compelling reasons to send a child to Grade R.

* Grade R starts teaching children fundamental skills, such as numbers and letter formation, which form the basis for their continuing education. They learn the difference between alphabetical and phonetic knowledge, reading, writing, spelling, counting, adding and subtracting.

* Attending Grade R ensures a smooth transition between pre-primary and primary school, as children become familiar with a school environment and routine. They learn that there is a set time for everything and they should work towards a goal at a particular time.

* Grade R scholars learn social emotional skills, which help them develop self-awareness, accountability for their actions and empathy for others. They also get to learn teamwork through activities that are group-centred and require them to cooperate.

* Grade R learners are exposed to technology, which plays a major part in modern life. Technology also makes learning fun and engaging for scholars.

When it comes to choosing a school, Thomson Blake suggests that parents should look for a school equipped with tools and resources which support social-emotional development, fine and gross motor skills development, in addition to academic progress.

“If children do not get a solid foundation in early childhood, it limits their chances to succeed. On the other hand, learners who attend high-quality pre-school programmes get a significant advantage,” says Thomson Blake.

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