Preparing the Remedial Learner for Mainstream High Schooling

Our passion at Japari is to see remedial learners moving on and thriving in mainstream environments. What can be done to equip and prepare scholars with learning difficulties for this? Is there any hope for the average remedial learner in the South African system, to manage when introduced to a mainstream learning environment?

South Africa’s policies on education reflect that for the last several decades, the need for quality basic education for all children has been recognised. For those who have a vested interest in remedial education, it is also encouraging to note that our country has had a long history of trying to address educational needs not catered for in mainstream teaching environments. Many of South Africa’s policies and legislation have an entrenched, robust framework of inclusive education within the education sector. Collectively, these have the aim of seeing all students receiving quality education in the schools of this country. Various government initiatives explicitly aim to make inclusive education available to the children of this nation.

This means that each South African child should have access to education that meets their individual learning needs. Each public school should be able to cater for the needs of remedial learners. But how does the reality live up to this ideal?

We commend these lofty ideals and recognise the effort to help remedial students

At Japari, we applaud initiatives to see the needs of remedial learners addressed. We are passionate about seeing remedial students reaching their full potential.

The sad reality is that in many a South African school, even mainstream students do not receive the teaching they require. For various reasons, and with so many challenges, remedial learners are not having their needs met.

The world’s longest school shutdown during the health pandemic in recent years did not help matters. For these and other reasons, a good remedial school with a track record of competency in assisting these scholars is the route that often proves to be the most beneficial for remedial learners.

Preparing the Remedial Learner for Mainstream High Schooling

Remedial Leaners’ needs: often misunderstood

It is obvious that mainstream schooling is facing many factors and challenges. It is no wonder that remedial learners often have their needs unaddressed in the schools they attend.  

Remedial students are children who are of average to above-average intelligence. Their cognitive skills fall within what is considered the range of normal, or even above average, as well. Yet, they battle more with learning than most children of the same range of intelligence and cognitive ability.

There are various conditions that these students might need to overcome. Many of these conditions themselves are often misunderstood. These are some of the reasons that a remedial school would best suit these types of learners.

What type of conditions are in view here when we speak of remedial students?

The recognition and diagnosis of various conditions is paramount to achieving teaching success.

Here are some of the conditions that a remedial school will help to address:

1) Dyslexia

Today, dyslexia is a more well-known learning difficulty than it was thirty or forty years ago. While many still do not correctly understand it, most people are aware of the condition. It is a learning disorder that affects the part of the brain that processes symbols. Learners with dyslexia have normal sight and intelligence. Children battling with dyslexia cannot decipher symbols (such as letters) the way most regular people can. This makes reading and learning very challenging.

2) Dyscalculia

Dyscalculia is a condition whereby a person has difficulty processing numbers. There are levels of severity. In the more severe cases, they can struggle to recognise or even understand the concept of numbers. For example, someone with dyscalculia would be unable to connect the word “five” with the symbol “5”. This can lead to many kinds of other difficulties, such as the inability to tell time.

In our society, basic numeracy is so intrinsic to daily living. This condition makes navigating life very difficult.

Dyscalculia is about as common as dyslexia. However, it is roughly about 100 times less likely to be identified if someone suffers from it.

3) ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is not recognised officially as falling within the category of barriers to learning. However, there is a lot of evidence that links having ADHD to having learning struggles. For one thing, more than 60 out of 100 children with ADHD will also have at least one other disorder. ADHD is quite prevalent, with one in twenty children having this neurodevelopmental disorder.

Students with ADHD generally perform less well at a tertiary level than their peers. Their results are often poorer as well.

Many children with genuine struggles will be told that their predicament is just a behavioural issue.

ADHD can present in different ways. The main ways it presents are in impulsiveness, inattention and being overly active. There are, however, cases of ADHD resulting in a quiet, almost disoriented state of mind. With such a variety of conditions being linked to ADHD, it is easy to see how important it is for teachers to be experts regarding such conditions.  

The Aim of Remedial Education

Japari has the aim of remediating our students from the beginning of schooling. We hope to see our Grade 1s doing well in a mainstream high school in a few years’ time. This is how we feel about all our students. And for senior primary pupils, in grade 6 and 7, we want them to be high-school-ready as well.

Preparing Grade 6 and 7s for Mainstream High School

While the ideal would have been to have an early diagnosis, there are many reasons that this is not the reality for many families. For some children their symptoms might only become pronounced as time progresses.

For children in senior primary, Grade 6 and 7, it is not too late to help them. A year or two in a remedial school will benefit them and ready them for their high school years.

Barriers to learning often impact students’ social skills too

The impact of learning difficulties is not just academic. There is also a negative social impact for many of these children too. We have seen that many home schoolers and remedial scholars can struggle to fit in with mainstream high schoolers in Grade 8. This is why our approach at Japari to assisting learners with their difficulties is holistic. We recognise that a massive factor for these precious children is readying them for social interaction with their peers. We don’t just focus on getting them ready to learn maths, science and English. We also teach them the skills to interact with others. Our students learn to be friends and make friends along with the necessary skills to perform in academics.

Japari’s success in high school readiness among remedial learners

We see most of our leaners graduate to Grade 8 and succeed in a mainstream high schooling environment. They are equipped with the tools to overcome their learning barriers. They also are taught to navigate the often far trickier social landscape.

This is a reason why even a year or two at Japari for older Grade 6 and 7 students would be so helpful.

Early intervention is best, but it is never too late to help the remedial learner

Japari’s team is comprised of experts who are able to accurately assess and diagnose learners. We also have a teaching staff that is trained in effective techniques to assist students with learning barriers. Whether dyslexia, ADHD or dyscalculia, our teachers and staff are amongst the best in their profession.

Japari means success for your childhood

Whether your child is just starting out their primary schooling, or is in senior primary, Japari will help with their remedial needs. Book a meeting with us at your earliest convenience and come and see what the school has to offer.

We would love to meet you and discuss how we can help your child see their best success.

Bibliography/Further Reading

https://hsf.org.za/publications/hsf-briefs/the-right-to-basic-education

http://www.included.org.za/news/what-is-inclusive-education/

https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/learners-south-africa-one-school-year-behind-where-they-should-be

http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2225-71602013000100006

https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/145048344.pdf

https://eduinfosa.blogspot.com/2019/09/south-africas-education-system-needs.html

https://www.thornburycommunityservices.co.uk/news/social-effects-of-friendships-for-people-with-lear/40/

https://ldaamerica.org/info/social-skills-and-learning-disabilities/

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