Our curriculum follows the framework of the Charlotte Mason educational philosophy which is inherently rich and broad, likened by her to an ‘abundant feast for the mind’. Whilst it puts a strong emphasis on the foundations of literacy and numeracy, using the best programmes available, it also includes subject areas such as:
- poetry and recitation
- Bible reading
- history (both local and global) learnt in large part through narrative
- science, which includes experiments and nature walks
- isiXhosa in addition to Afrikaans
- music and art appreciation
- practical art and handicrafts
- physical education and sport
- regular educational trips
'Disciplinary' subject lessons are alternated with 'inspirational' lessons, helping sustain the children's interest and concentration. Wherever possible, learning happens through the reading of excellent literature rather than merely through textbooks.
A narrowed curriculum could fail to cultivate the diverse range of gifts or aptitudes amongst our students or undermine the love of learning.
The curriculum content is sourced from Charlotte Mason experts in the UK but contextualised for the South African setting. Our aim is to ensure that the children reach, and in most cases, surpass the national curriculum (NCS and CAPS) requirements for numeracy, literacy and languages.
One of the educational tools advocated by Charlotte Mason is narration, initially verbal (and sometimes drawn), and then written in the higher grades. This is where the children are asked to take turns ‘telling back’ in detail what they have just heard read to them. Teachers who employ the regular use of narration in the class or homeschool attest to its value on a number of levels.
The practice of narration helps:
- develop the ability to pay close attention
- make the subject content ‘stick’ as it is verbalised
- stimulate a greater curiosity around the core ideas as they are discussed
- develop the ability to order thoughts and clearly articulate them to others
- develop the ability to engage fruitfully in group discussion, listening carefully to others and waiting to take your turn
Needless to say, these are extremely important life-skills to acquire.
At Grace Primary, because of the individual attention and effective learning afforded by smaller class sizes, and the value we place on time for unstructured play as well as for out-of-school activities, we try and keep homework to a minimum, particularly for the Foundation Phase.