Tree Tops extended into the Junior Primary phase in 2004 and offers complete Foundation Phase education: Grade R to Grade 3.
The Junior Primary classes enjoy a structured, but relaxed, learning environment. Their school day is extended and, in addition to the 'core curriculum', they have an 'intramural' sports’ programme and weekly Design and Technology, or Science lessons, as well as isiZulu as a first additional language. Afrikaans is introduced as a second additional language from Grade 1.
Features of our Junior Primary - deliberately, delightfully different!
- A sense of community – ‘a village school in the city’
- Teachers who know about the development of young children and see Junior Primary education as part of a continuum of early childhood development
- Small co-educational classes (approx. 20 pupils)
- A uniform made for work and play, designed largely in denim to be casual and functional
- A strong emphasis on delivering the core curriculum (Mathematics, Languages and Life Skills) in the most interactive, child-friendly and stimulating way possible
- An extended day (through to 2.00pm for Grade 3) which encompasses an intramural sports’ programme aimed at developing individual potential while improving each child’s physical competences and sense of self
- Science lessons, and ‘workshops’, with an emphasis on problem-solving and incorporating hands-on activities
- A strong environmental ethos, with regular learning experiences in the ‘countryside', permaculture vegetable gardening, indigenous gardening and recycling (all in line with the Eco-Schools' vision)A natural garden setting, where buildings are of ‘home-like’ rather than institutional proportions
- A relaxed caring atmosphere with an emphasis on personal rights and responsibilities
The Junior Primary Curriculum
Subject content is selected to form a relevant foundation for life-long learning, critical thinking, problem-solving and transference of skills, knowledge and experience.
The values and principles articulated in Tree Tops School’s Mission Statement are considered and incorporated eg respect for self, others and the environment, tolerance, a sense of community, knowledge and appreciation of the natural world (including the fragile nature of our Earth and the need to live in ways which promote sustainability).
Programmes are designed to:
- develop knowledge, skills, values and attitudes in a child-centred and interactive manner
- take cognisance of past and present research on child development
- ensure different types of learning styles and intelligences are catered for
- be relevant to the child's world
equip children to cope successfully with the next grade and with life itself
The educational programmes for Grade 1 to Grade 3 are based on the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) for the Foundation Phase, in terms of the learning outcomes and assessment standards required in the three main subjects of Language (Home Language, First Additional Language and Second Additional Language), Mathematics and Life Skills (Beginning Knowledge ie History, Geography, Natural Science, Physical Science, Design and Technology; Creative Arts - drama, art and music; Physical Education; Personal and Social Well-being).
These programmes form the core curriculum although, at Tree Tops, certain learning experiences are developed well beyond the required assessment standards, namely:
- Science, especially Natural Science, with a particular emphasis on environmental issues
- Physical Science
- Design and Technology
- Art, Music and Drama
- Values Development
- Diversity and Tolerance
- Junior Primary curriculum delivery and implementation:
Modes of programme delivery at Tree Tops include –
- class work
- group work
- individual tasks
- vertical grouping
- project work
- field trips
- visiting speakers
- audio/visual media ie OHP, TV and interactive whiteboards
utilizing various media, such as written text, recorded text, relevant computer programmes
- drama, art, music
- sporting activities
During programme delivery, teachers seek to identify childrens’ strengths and weaknesses, to allow for extension or additional support as required.
Teachers integrate the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes contained in the various subjects, so learning is not experienced in a fragmented fashion.
Teachers also make use of internationally recognised ‘standardised tests’ to plot the progress of each pupil in terms of their reading, spelling and maths development. This allows for targeted intervention – whether in terms of additional support – or further extension.
Teachers take cognizance of different learning styles (visual, auditory, tactile and kinaesthetic) and utilise a variety of approaches to ensure maximum understanding.
Teachers also seek to identify different types of intelligence and to support learners’ growth in these spheres.
Learning takes place in a relaxed, happy and emotionally supportive environment, where risk-taking is encouraged and ‘fear of failure’ consciously mediated against.
Junior Primary Sport
Tree Tops believes that developing a wide variety of physical competences enhances children’s health and self-esteem. The emphasis is on participation, team-spirit, doing one’s best and learning a variety of sporting codes (and the importance of sportsmanship!) without an unhealthy focus on competition.
All children in the Junior Primary participate in the sporting programme and are regularly grouped according to their level of ability, rather than their age, so that their skills are extended. Tree Tops has a longer school day for children in the Junior Primary, in order to accommodate an intramural sporting programme and every child is involved in two and a half hours of organised sporting activity each week. Teams also participate in inter-school matches against a number of other small schools whenever possible. This gives the children exposure to playing against other teams, although these are ‘friendly’ matches.
While the Windmill campus has a swimming pool and space for gymnastics, we continue to use courts and playing fields available within walking distance of the school for other sporting codes.
Sporting activities provided include; swimming, gymnastics, as well as cricket, hockey, rugby, soccer, basketball and athletics.
Quality assurance in the sporting programme offered at Tree Tops school is ensured by the recognised sporting qualifications of the Junior Primary teachers.
The school also contracts a qualified coach for gymnastics.
Mrs Gail Adamson - South African Gymnastics Federation Level 2 qualification; FIG Level One Coaches qualification; FIG General Gymnastics Coaches’ qualification
Junior Primary Design and Technology
There is a strong accent on, and appreciation of, the natural world at Tree Tops and our environmental awareness forms an integral part of the ethos of the school. In contrast to this, Technology as a subject looks at the man-made world. It does, however, explore the impact of technology on the environment and encourages responsibility. Through Technology Education children are encouraged to ask “why?” and to understand the world around them. They love exploring simple everyday objects (something like a tin opener) and understanding how they work. Technology is about human responses to needs and combines knowledge, skills and resources in problem-solving exercises - the value of Technology Education goes far beyond just ‘making things’ and the focus is on problem-solving, rather than just the product.
Through the ‘technological process’ a range of skills is learnt and practised. Products are designed, planned and then evaluated as possible solutions to presented problems. Group work is used in almost every Design and Technology lesson, which creates wonderful opportunities for communication and co-operation throughout the process. (It is fascinating to see how creative and inventive young children are in their problem-solving!) Critical thinking and analytical skills are also developed through evaluating both existing products and those that the children themselves have made. During this process children are learning through discovery – the way in which we have always aimed to teach at Tree Tops. These valuable life-skills stay with the children long after the product has been made!
With the emphasis on group work and sharing of ideas, as well as open-ended questioning, Design and Technology is a hugely exciting and rewarding subject for both teacher and learner.
In the latter part of 2009, Tree Tops was fortunate to receive a generous donation from The Victor Daitz Foundation for the purpose of fully equipping our Technology and Science Room.
Music, Drama and Dance
Our Junior Primary children also have weekly Music, Drama and Dance Lessons with Ros Toerien – which includes singing, movement and dance, introduction to different genres of music and different percussion instruments, as well as ‘guest appearances’ by different musicians.
Junior Primary Uniform
Comfort and practicality are features of the Tree Tops’ Junior Primary uniform.
Denim pinafores or unisex denim shorts, worn with a short-sleeved denim shirt or t-shirt, are worn in warm weather, while tracksuits for both boys and girls provide warmth on cool or cold days.
Footwear includes any suitable shoe or sandal in either black or brown. Children are encouraged to remove their shoes during the school day, if this makes them feel more comfortable. Sports’ kit includes a white t-shirt, worn with green ‘quantec’ shorts, white sports shoes and white socks. A plain black Speedo costume is worn with a green cap for swimming.
Junior Primary children have regulation school and sports bags, as well as ‘cooler bags’ in which to keep their lunch.
Uniforms (excluding shoes and swimming kit) are available from the Uniform Shop situated at the school.