These groups are directed at building (receptive & expressive) English language proficiency skills, to enable mostly Zulu-speaking learners attending English medium schools, to progress better. In addition, numeracy skills are enhanced. The vision has been to target schools with learners from mainly impoverished homes.
The teachers identify the most at risk learners as candidates for the groups and the therapists endeavour to dovetail their program with language content being covered in the classroom. As the children in the group catch up to the rest of the class they exit the program and other children join. Principals of the participating schools have provided encouraging feedback about the positive effects of the program. Evaluations are completed on individual attendees on 2 occasions during the year to monitor progress and ensure the efficacy of the program. Specialised 2nd language English literacy programs and computer-based materials are used by therapists as a basis for this intervention. We also have a resource library of large storybooks and other materials that our facilitators draw from.
Remedial teachers provided remedial assessments and small-group remedial teaching with the aim of assisting children who are lagging behind in the early schooling phase (when foundation skills are being laid down) to strengthen the weaker areas of scholastic ability.
Psychologists conduct educational and psychological assessments and provide some individual therapy but mostly do group therapy at community schools and child and youth care centres. Children tend to be grouped around specific areas of need, such as those experiencing loss and abandonment, sexual abuse, gross deprivation and neglect. Otherwise efforts are made to build life coping skills in general, such as building supportive friendships, problem-solving, conflict resolution and anger management. In some cases group therapy extends to caregivers managing difficult behaviours in children in residential care.
The Centre’s professionals provide talks and workshops on relevant subject matter, such as overcoming the challenges of educating 2nd language English-learning in an English medium environment, helping parents of autistic children to manage difficult behaviours better and providing educators with knowledge and skills to help learners with motor, language and perceptual delays and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Since 2003, the Centre has been accredited by the Professional Board of Psychology, as an Internship site. Mainly, isiZulu-speaking interns are referred to us from a range of universities. The University of KZN has also relied on us for the practical training of Occupational Therapy and Speech and Language Therapy students. We regard the high-quality, intensive, practical training and supervision we provide to interns as part of a wider community service. We also provide work experience to high school leavers considering entering related professions.