The Vygotskian approach is that pre-academic skills should emerge out of children’s interests in a social context appropriate to young children. Large groups of children should not be drilled on phonics by a teacher. Instead, reading and writing should emerge out of a desire to write messages to a friend or a note to Mom or Dad.
Southside does make use of Get Reading Right materials, as their synthetic phonics approach is considered to be consistent with our overall philosophy.
Levels of literacy are monitored by the regular use of proprietary assessments from Sylvan Learning. This gives us an objective way to monitor improvements in literacy and respond appropriately to the individual needs of each child, whether it be for extra support or extension work.
For a small minority of the children at Southside, English may not be their mother tongue, or not the primary language spoken at home. However, this is rarely a problem, as young children quickly pick up the language as it is the medium of instruction.
Southside also provides daily exposure to Putonghua. This is partly a reflection of our commitment to diversity, partly because most of the children will progress to international schools where Putonghua will be taught, and partly because the children enjoy it and seem to find it easier to pick up at a very young age.