In early April the Communities of Practice for Child Well-being hosted a Teacher’s Maths and Language workshop. 36 teachers from all of the schools participating in the CoP attended the workshop at the Funda UJabule school on the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto campus. The workshop featured 2 sessions. Dr Hanrie Bezuidenhout provided training on how number concept development is hierarchical and that understanding of cardinality – the quantity value of a number – comes after children have grasped the one-to-one correspondence of counting. The session also included discussion around the role of language in building mathematics concepts.
The second session, managed by Prof Elizabeth Henning, was about the teaching of initial reading. Prof Henning intentionally did not use any written language examples (such as PowerPoint slides), aiming to alert the teachers to the importance of sound (phonology) in initial reading. She touched on the term ‘phoneme’ and that when children learn to read, they learn to associate a letter (or several letters together) with a sound – a phoneme. The interactive session saw teachers discussing ‘phonics’ as a way to teach reading, step-by-step, by linking what is seen by the eyes in print to what is heard by the ear as sound.