Midpoint at Leopard Tree Learning Centre

This week marks the midpoint of my internship at Streetlight Schools and Leopard Tree Learning Centre. Even though I’ve had five weeks so far to get used to my internship and how the organization works, this week, my internship also changed quite a bit.

Monday marked the first day of our holiday program, which is the time of year during which we have students at the Learning Centre for the full day instead of just from 3:00 to 6:00 in the evenings. Now, we are hosting between 25 and 35 kids in the Centre each day, from 10:00 in the morning until 5:00 in the evening. While research isn’t as big of a component at my job any more, I am still continuing with a few minor projects in the office before and after the Centre is open.

Before, my main project was literacy assessments. I started out by doing research, and then ultimately created several literacy assessments for different grades to gauge the English level of each learner. The process showed me a lot about how kids respond to different approaches as well as how to engage with students on an individual level in order to receive the most informative responses. I’ve essentially finished the assessments and now we are using my findings to create the English schedule for the holiday program.

So far, I’m enjoying full days with the kids quite a bit. I think it is much more up my alley than office work — but I’m still glad to have had the experience in the office, as I was really looking for a balance between the two through this internship. The best part is, my interactions with our learners is unlike any other experience I’ve had working with children. I’m constantly learning from them, which is probably due to the unique set up of the Centre. Right now, we are learning with new teaching practices, which is all a part of experiencing new, innovative methods of education. Some of the practices include: student collaboration, older learners teaching younger learners, learners working on their own, and (somewhat) traditional instruction from the teachers. What I like most about these practices is that they engage each student, so that we can really see where they’re at (without having to test all the time) rather than just speaking in front of a group of kids every day.

During the holiday program, we balance the morning between Math and English, and then have other activities in the afternoon, which change day to day. Some of the activities include traditional singing and dancing, sports, painting, clay, paper mache, and theatre. We are also taking some time to plan our Mandela Day project, which is a service project that we will do on July 18th in honor of Nelson Mandela’s birthday. The purpose of Mandela Day is for everyone in South Africa to take 67 minutes of their day to serve others, in honor of Mandela, who served the South African people for 67 years (27 years in prison, and 40 years outside of prison). For more information on Mandela Day, click here.

Another extracurricular that we do in the afternoons is Sky Farms. Sky Farms is a project that Streetlight Schools and Bjala Properties (our partners, mentioned in my previous post) started on the roof of the building next door to the Centre. There, we teach the kids about growing food, about how plants work, and they get to see the entire process. Right now, we have onions, spring onions (scallions), cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, carrots, herbs, cherry tomatoes, and more. For more information on Sky Farms, click here.

Today we even had a Treasure Hunt in the park outside of our building. The kids picked up everything, from old bottle caps to pinecones, leaves, acorns, each of which were different and unique (as all of the trees in that park seem to be different kinds). They had a lot of fun, and it was also a valuable experience for the tutors as it provided an amazing opportunity for the learners to take the lead and show us new things.

At the end of each day, no matter what the activity, the learners all sit around one of our classrooms and receive juice and biscuits as a reward for doing well. All in all, I am really excited about the coming weeks of the holiday program and I’m looking forward to all that we learn in this new setting, spending time in the Centre all day.

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