Every parent dreams that their child will have a good job in the future. The engineer dreams that her child will be good at mathematics in order to start a successful career, while the author hopes that his child will also publish books one day, but their dreams are shattered when their child does not know how to solve a simple math problem or how to read fluently. As a last resort, the child is sent for extra classes and more pressure is put on the child in an attempt to get him/her to perform. At the end of the day, the child is burned out and the parents abandon their dreams for their child’s future.
There are two basic principles that must be properly embedded in the Foundation Phase. Learners nowadays are bombarded with worksheets and computer programs that promise to teach them everything they need to know, but when further investigation is done about what is really needed to embed these principles, no worksheet or computer program can teach it to the learner.
In languages, a learner must be able to read comprehensively. This skill will enable the learner to read questions in tests or examinations. If we want to achieve this, the learner should at least be able to read without getting stuck or using his/her fingers. In order to read fluently, the learner must know all his sounds very well and practise regularly.
When learning sounds, it must be done as practically as possible. The learner must build the sounds out of clay, practice it out loud, write it in the sand, etc. The learner must associate the letter with the explosive sound and practice it on a daily basis. If the sounds are shown to the learner, they must be able to say it out loud as quickly as possible. As soon as the learner has learned enough sounds, words and sentences can be built. Give the learner enough time and enough easy-to-read material. A learner who knows his/her sounds will read very quickly. Make sure that the learner has enough books that suit their reading ability. Books that are too difficult will demotivate the learner, but easy-to-read books will nurture a love for reading.
In mathematics, everything comes down to numerical comprehension. This means that the learner can play with a number in his head, e.g. the number 5, we can break it up into a 2 and a 3, if we double it, it’s a 10, it’s an even number and we can halve it without a remainder. The learner can immediately show 5 fingers without counting it.
A learner who can count does not necessarily have numerical comprehension, counting is nothing but a rhyme learned early on. The basic principle of mathematics is to embed numerical comprehension in a learner. Numerical comprehension also leads to mental calculations that enable a learner to work faster and develop a better logical understanding of numbers. If a learner in Grade 3 still counts on his/her fingers or find ways to get answers by drawing pictures, it means that numerical comprehension is not embedded. Numeracy is learned by representing numbers visually. Collect 5 pebbles, break them up into different groups and help the learner to visualise the amounts in their head.
If the building blocks for these two basic principles are well-established, the learner will have a head start in learning more difficult concepts in languages and mathematics.