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Human Rights

This year, our Foundation Phase consists of a total of fifteen 6 – 8 year old’s, of which seven 6 year old’s are new to the school, and eight 7 – 8 year old’s were part of the school last year.  They are a racially and economically diverse group, representing at least four different cultures.

We decided to start the year with the theme of ‘Our bodies’, and to take a holistic approach exploring physical aspects like naming parts of the body and thinking about the function of each part, to considering social and emotional factors such as body image and feelings.

Listening to the voices of children

Listening to the voices of children

We often start a topic by listening to the children to find out what they think they already know.  Whilst naming parts of the body that we can see a child asked, ‘Why do we have different kind of voices?’  A fascinating conversation emerged with the children sharing their thinking.  This was definitely an area that the children were curious about, so we decided to continue the conversation the following day.  One child shared about people having different accents because of where they are from.  This led to another child explaining that he is adopted, and that, ‘I would speak differently if I was still there, which is far away from here, and I would speak isiZulu.’  The idea that he would speak a different language was a revelation to the rest of the  group, and within this, they `started to hear how other children speak isiZulu at home.  Excitement rose as they shared their desire to learn isiZulu; ‘so they can really understand one another’. 

Embracing the other

Embracing the other

Since the start of the school year at the beginning of February, the new children have been welcomed in to a community where there is a deep sense of respect for the other.  It has been amazing to see our 7 – 8 year olds encourage the new children.  As the new children shared with the whole group a sentence they had written, the older children spontaneously explained what they liked about what they said, or how they had shared it.  It was such a privilege to witness. In sharing what they were thankful for at the end of one school day, one child shared how she was grateful for the new children that were now part of the group. 

Our new children are being embraced in to a culture where the children value and listen to one another, appreciating different perspectives and ideas.    The new children are being encouraged to look at the child who is speaking, to listen to what is being shared because it  is important.  This is a shift for some children.  Children are needing to move from a context where they have been used to listening to, and answering questions the teacher asks, to an environment where discussions between the children are welcomed, with the teacher  observing, provoking and respecting thinking.  

Furthermore, we are observing children’s curiosity blossom.  In a culture where the children are ‘seen’, the children are asking so many questions about how their bodies work  At the same time they are developing the ability to share what they think, without holding it too tightly because there might be another answer. 

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