This is the first in a series of articles, aimed at parents who are interested in the HBM Primary environment.
Vertical Age groupings
The children are a mixture of ages from 6 to 9 year olds or 9 to 12 year olds. This grouping allows each child to find his or her own pace without feeling ‘ahead’ or ‘behind’ in relation to their peers. There is no segregation by age or year level in any learning area. The children can develop socially, emotionally and intellectually at their individual pace. Each child is carefully observed, gently guided and corrected – through self-correcting materials and teachers.
A respectful community
Everyone learns from one another and everyone’s contribution is acknowledged and valued.
Children develop confidence and are comfortable in their interactions with each other and adults. The children play an important role in deciding and managing classroom activities and routines from conflict resolution skills and hosting class meetings to presenting lessons to classmates and engaging in community service projects.
A motivation to learn
Children learn when they are free to choose work that is personalised to their interests, needs and abilities. They are free to choose their own work within appropriate limits negotiated with their teacher. They take an active role in planning their work and setting goals for themselves. They don’t work for grades or external rewards. At any time the children will be involved in different tasks. They have the freedom to choose their own work – they don’t have the freedom to choose nothing.
The teacher responds to the changing interests of each child as a unique individual. The children become deeply involved in what they are doing. The teachers know the children well and respond to their unique interests and needs, engaging the parents in this process. Each child’s individual needs are assessed through observation so that he is introduced to new concepts when he is developmentally ready and new knowledge is always built on what he already knows. The learning environment meets the developmental needs of all children in a safe, caring and interesting community. The children are relaxed and develop confidence with their peers and teachers. Learning is fun and children find joy in their discoveries and in the activities they choose each day.
By Kerin Goosen