OUR SCHOOL PROGRAMME
St Martin’s Pre-Primary School is an independent school registered with the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education and Culture. The school is documented as a recognised provider of Grade R education by the Basic Department of Education. The School has public benefit organisation status, i.e., it is non-profit making. High standards are maintained, and teachers keep abreast of the latest educational trends.
A well-researched programme, which is planned and organised carefully, is offered. Structured teacher-directed and free-choice play periods promote concept formation, language development, pre-reading, pre-writing and pre-mathematics skills, confidence, self-discipline, problem-solving, social skills, etc. Routine periods promote sequential learning, independence and self-management. Exciting, age-appropriate and fun-filled (and often loud!) lessons include the following:
Expressive Movement and Dance
In Expressive Movement and Dance, the children explore the body, how it moves, where it moves and how it moves in relationship with other individuals and groups, in creative investigation and communication. These lessons also encourage aesthetic appreciation and spatial awareness.
In Drama Rings (so-called because the children sit in a circle on the floor), the children dramatise a story, an event, an emotional experience, a fantasy scenario or a problem situation; the focus being the communication of ideas and feelings through words, sounds, actions and role play. Drama helps the child to understand himself and enables her to deal with real-life situations.
Object Studies allow children to develop analytical skills whilst examining familiar objects, such as brushes and brooms, boxes, bottles, etc. Using the five senses, the children discover the relationship between form and function, as well as employing problem-solving skills in related tasks, e.g., “design a broom to clean under tables, for a tall man who cannot bend down”.
Stories and Puppet Shows
Language advancement is one of the most important aspects of early childhood education; our programme fosters the acquisition of vocabulary as well as the children’s ability to articulate, express their understanding and use language creatively. Story themes include Identity and a Sense of Belonging; Social Values; Humour; Problem-Solving; Cognitive Skills, etc. Poetry is a rich source for language extension and stimulates effective language usage. The children delight in Creative Story Writing, when they dictate an exciting adventure of their own making.
Conversational Zulu is offered. The children learn Zulu words for familiar persons, objects and actions; they sing Zulu songs and listen to simple Zulu stories. The purpose of these lessons is to familiarise and train the ear in the cadence, rhythm and pronunciation of Zulu.
Active, experiential learning is encouraged, and children explore and learn in various ways, i.e., discovering with the five senses, working with real objects, playing educational games and interpreting posters (symbolic interpretation) and expressing conceptual understanding through artwork; thereby allowing each child to progress in his/her own way and at his/her own pace. This process allows the child’s understanding to move from the concrete to the abstract.
The curriculum is presented progressively, with the children building upon past-experience, in a hands-on, fun and age-appropriate manner – lots of movement, action and noise! For example, lessons for 3/4-year-olds will be of 15-20 minutes duration whilst lessons for the Reception Class/Grade R will be of 20-30 minutes duration.
Our School has its own distinctive character, built in the crypt of the St Martin-in-the-Fields Church. Every nook and cranny has been utilised to provide an enriching environment for our pupils. The smaller areas are used as Homes Bases, where the children meet with their teachers and classmates in a closer and more intimate space, as they share the weekend’s news from home, plan the day ahead, celebrate a birthday or enjoy a story, etc. The Hall, Church, garden and larger classrooms provide more expansive spaces to move, explore and discover during Music, Movement, Functional Movement, etc.
An integral part of the school’s offering is the different play areas, which the children enjoy during the free-choice periods: All equipment is selected and arranged carefully by the teachers to encourage the development of the “whole” child.
LOTS of fun outdoors! This play includes sand and water play in the sensory trays, climbing, cycling, swinging, ball sports, dressing-up, etc. These opportunities enhance physical development, midline-crossing, dominance, social interaction, problem-solving, etc.
Fantasy play involves “dressing up” and role play. And we have the most FANTASTIC themes, including the Hospital, Orchestra, Nursery, Hairdresser, Post Office, etc.
In the Art Room, the children explore many different techniques and media. The Environmental Themes (based on the DOE CAPS themes) are the stimulus for painting, drawing, collage, dough modelling, cutting and sticking, box construction, woodwork, etc. And even baking!
Cognitive play, problem-solving, spatial awareness and co-operative engagement are just some of the benefits of playing with puzzles, educational games, construction kits and blocks.
Strict standards are applied to ensure the safety and health of the children. Each play area is structured and supervised by a teacher. ALL members of staff are trained in first aid. Emergency drills are practised regularly.
The ongoing progress of each child is monitored carefully. Staff believe in maintaining a strong link between school and home and offer comprehensive feedback to parents through interviews, detailed reports and parent evenings. The School prides itself on the early identification of learning difficulties. The School Readiness Programme for Grade R pupils ensures that children are well prepared for the rigours of Grade 1 in the formal education phase.
Parents are invited to become involved in the management of the School by serving on the Governing Body, on the Parents’ Association Committee or on other sub-committees which serve the School.
Governance of the School
St Martin’s was established in 1975 as an initiative of St Martin-in-the-Fields Church. A close link is maintained with the Church to this day. The School is governed by a committee made up of representatives nominated by the Church and parents. The Rector and Principal also serve on this committee. The ethos of the School is Christian but tolerance, acceptance and respect of other religions are upheld; children of all cultures are admitted to the School.
Preparation for Formal Schooling
The well-rounded Grade R/School Readiness Programme prepares the child for the challenges of Grade 1. It covers all the necessary pre-school skills. Concepts that are explored include Body Image, the Five Senses, Colour, Shape, Positions in Space, Number, etc. The emergent skills of pre-writing, pre-reading and pre-numeracy are promoted whilst developing the ability to work independently, complete set tasks, concentrate for reasonable periods of time, solve problems creatively, etc. The Grade R experience is further extended through life skills outings in the community and children also explore a Language Programme in preparation for formal reading and writing.
Close links are maintained with local primary schools, in order to facilitate the child’s transition to formal schooling.