WORK CONTENT AND DESCRIPTION
Assist in a primary school for children with a variety of disabilities or special needs. Some of today’s pupils have cerebral palsy, which refers to a group of permanent but non-progressive disorders of posture and movement. It is due to a dysfunction of the brain, which can occur during birth or as a result of accident or illness in childhood. Some children have other syndromes or conditions such as muscular dystrophy, multiple physical impairment, ADHD and specific learning disabilities.
The school is set in a beautiful location, overlooking the Rondebosch Common and facing the impressive side of Table Mountain. The school has 250 pupils ranging from 3 years old to about 13, from pre-primary to year 7. The school buildings are spacious and brightly decorated with art works done by the children and the grounds are immaculate and well-kept. There is a heated indoor swimming pool used largely for therapy. Part of the school day is allocated to sport and pupils take part in school leagues as well as sport for the disabled. On Mondays a group goes to a farm for Riding for the Disabled.
Lack of concentration, dyslexia or hyperactivity are often linked to their conditions and the children can get over-excited by changes in routine, which means that teachers and assistants need to have endless patience in dealing with small upsets. The teachers are grateful for the help of volunteers – just the presence of another adult in the classroom makes the activities run more smoothly. Your placement at this school will be an unforgettable experience.
YOUR WORK AT THE SCHOOL:
When you arrive you will spend some time with the teacher in charge who will talk about the Special Needs of the children and about your role in the school as a volunteer.
You will then be allocated to a teacher who will introduce you to the work You may spend time in all different areas of work in the school before settling into a particular area. You can make a specific request if there is anything that you are particularly interested in – for example you may prefer working in the Nursery, or with the older children, or helping in the Physiotherapy or OT departments.
The work falls into five categories:
- Admin (receptionist, switchboard - if there is someone absent);
- Library (mending books, cataloguing, etc);
- Class Aides (helping children in the nursery section, or helping the teacher with various class activities, or listening to children reading);
- Being a “Scribe” or amanuensis (this means you will go with a pupil who is disabled and cannot write, sit with him/her in class and take notes, and then write for him/her while he/she tells the scribe the answers in tests or examinations).
- The fifth category is basically filling in where needed – perhaps in charge of collecting children who need physiotherapy
You can also help with Sport and Physical Education, such as swimming, soccer, cricket as well as sport for the disabled.
Different age groups end their school day at different times. After the pupils have left, you may be given preparation tasks for the next day by the teacher, or there might be admin work in the office or the school library. This will be until 3.00 pm.
Sometimes there might be extra duties after this, like preparing for school Sports Day or School Concert. We urge volunteers to get involved with extra functions taking place at the school as you can have a lot of fun and get to know the children far better by getting involved in the after school activities. Your weekends are entirely free (for sightseeing, travel and fun)!
SCHOOL TERMS IN SOUTH AFRICA:
Please note that this placement is not available during the school holidays, so it’s important to consult the school terms below to plan your placement dates. Your project coordinator will also assist you with your placement planning, as well as suggest alternatives and exciting things to do during the holiday periods.
Dates for the 2018 school terms (semesters) are given below.
Term 4: 9 October – 12 December
Dates for the 2019 school terms (semesters) are given below.
Term 1: 09 January – 15 March
Term 2: 02 April – 14 June
Term 3: 09 July – 20 September
Term 4: 1 October – 4 December
Generally the last week before terms end is given to exams and tests. This means that you will find your work load dropping during this week and you will usually find more free time than normal school time. Exams are written by classes from Grade 3 upward three times a year. For the last three weeks of term 2, 3 and 4 it would not be suitable to volunteer in the classes doing exams. The younger children would still welcome volunteers, but individual requests for these dates would have to be discussed first.
Weekends and school holidays are free for you to sight-see and do activities, tours and trips! Please see some of the amazing Add-On trips we've put together for you to complement your placement. More information can be found on the ‘Optional Activities’ Tab on the left.