‘Zigzag’ learning at new ISASA member FasTracKids Sandton

| August 19, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Bernadine Shaw

Most researchers will agree that the ‘window of opportunity’ for the development of a child’s neural network, or their capacity for learning, exists between birth and the age of eight years.1

In fact, 50% of a child’s ability to learn is established by the time the child is five years old, and 80% by the time the child is eight.2 In our changing world, the focus needs to be on developing the process of how to learn. Today, children need to know more than their alphabet and numbers to be school-ready. Research has shown that basic skills such as teamwork, independence, problem solving, collaboration and communication are prerequisites to learning success. Children are exposed to many exciting adventures that allow them to explore their creative thinking and problem-solving skills, build their communication skills and foster independence and leadership to prepare them to thrive in school and life. With proper encouragement and reinforcement, young children will strive to maximise their potential.

Entrepreneurship meets education

FasTracKids Sandton, a school for young children and a new ISASA member, aims to provide fun, interactive early education to children, from toddlers through to primary school, whilst reinforcing children’s innate love of learning. FasTracKids International, Ltd. was founded in 1998 to deliver enrichment education services to children aged three to six years. Today, the company has helped more than 160 licensees to educate thousands of children in more than 30 countries, and has been recognised as a top franchising organisation by publications such as Entrepreneur Magazine.3

In 1997, an entrepreneur met an educator.4 The entrepreneur had a vision of building key skills in children, so they would be better communicators, problem solvers and leaders throughout their lives. The educator had developed a curriculum that built a child’s creative and critical thinking skills. Starting in 1998, FasTracKids moved the educational content to a multimedia, interactive platform to engage children. The platform provides a consistent and high-quality delivery and teaching methodology that appeals to a child’s senses. FasTracKids is now a unique differentiator in the early education marketplace.

Zigzagging not zany

Using multisensory learning techniques and the interactive technology, FasTracKids develops key learning skills such as critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration, independence and confidence to prepare the whole child for school and for life. When asked ‘How do children learn?’, esteemed professor emeritus of the Charter College of Education at California State University in the US, Dr Barbara Clark, endorsed the FasTracKids way of teaching and learning when she said: “Learning… happens when there many repetitious exposures to a concept.” 5

FasTracKids utilises ‘educational zigzagging’ – a method that promotes repetition in innovative ways. Content is combined with a unique delivery to reinforce key elements for the development of young minds. ‘Zigzagging’ refers to the learning of a concept by reinforcement. In the FasTracKids lesson, the concept to be learned is the centre focus, and activities and ideas are centred on the concept. This accommodates multiple learning styles. Children’s self-esteem and learning blossom as they successfully accomplish in the positive environment. Their concentration skills are stretched through challenging questions and instructions. The monthly class themes include biology, technology, economics, earth science, mathematics, literature and communication.

Taking on technology too

FasTracKids education is enhanced with the use of CD-ROMbased lessons projected onto SMART boards, allowing the child to take trips to the centre of the earth, to tour the planets or the interior of the body. This gives learners the opportunity to engage with technology and content simultaneously.

In a structured setting, with a low learner to teacher ratio, children learn to take risks and persevere to find a solution. They become responsible for their own learning, and this shift of thinking is known as acquiring a love of learning. The child develops an eagerness to know more.

FasTracKids Sandton preschool

FasTracKids Sandton opened in March 2011 and its growth is attributed to its South African Council of Educators-registered staff and the specialised attention each child receives at the school.

The school’s curriculum is Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) aligned, as required by the South African Department of Education,6 but has been enriched to include further aspects to encourage students to explore their real-life surroundings.

“FasTracKids is an international franchise, registered in more than 47 countries worldwide. Our students are now learning the same content and information as those FasTracKids students in Romania, Portugal, USA and India. We are looking at growing the FasTracKids brand in South Africa in the coming years,” says Bernadine Shaw, principal and owner of FasTracKids Sandton.

References:
1. See, for example: Author unknown (n.d.) “Baby’s brain begins now: conception to age 3”. Available at: http://www.urbanchildinstitute.org/why-0-
3/baby-and-brain.
2. See, for example: Fox, N.A., Lewis, A., Leavitt, M.D. and Warhol, J.G. (eds) (1999) “The role of early experience in infant development”. Available
at: http://www.baby.com/jjpi/for-professionals/The-Role-of-Early-Experiencein-Infant-Development.pdf.
3. See: http://www.franchisebusiness.co.uk/fastrackids/.
4. See: http://www.fastrackids.com/history/.
5. See, for example: http://education.byu.edu/tell/transcriptions/may_2001/barbara_clark.html; and Clark, C. (1988) “Integrative education: putting the pieces together in a working model”. Available at: http://www.context.org/iclib/ic18/clark/.
6. See, for example: http://www.education.gov.za/Curriculum/CurriculumAssessmentPolicyStatements/tabid/419/Default.aspx.

Category: Spring 2014

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