The Think Equal Classroom Programme Implementation in the School “African Angels”
Sharon Edworthy is the principal of the independent school “African Angels” in the community of Chintsa, Eastern Cape of South Africa.
She’s been implementing the Think Equal classroom programme over the past year and is now sharing her experience with the children.
Sharon Edworthy, principal of the independent school “African Angels” in South Africa.
What motivated you to implement the Think Equal programme in the “African Angels” school?
As our journey began, many thoughts filled my mind about the state of the emotions our children exhibit. It often flaws me how stable they appear, given the environment in which they spend their waking hours. Perhaps it’s simply the way they’re told to behave; perhaps they aren’t allowed the opportunity to be any different. Perhaps the resilience of a child has them push through obstacles? Perhaps childlike optimism helps them see the good side of things when so much is terrible.
I often marvel at their resilience, happiness, and ability to live in the moment.
Yet when the shoulders droop, the head is down, something happens in the morning before leaving home, on the way to school, on the playground… it can all be too much. Those are the days that self-regulation skills are hard to find, and those days appear out of the blue. That’s why we got interested in implementing the Think Equal programme as soon as we heard of it.
Think Equal child in South Africa during one of our activities.
What have you noticed since implementing our Think Equal classroom programme in the school?
Our boys are playing with dolls. They don’t even mind using the pink headphones now! It really isn’t about the dolls or colours at all; it’s the fact that they now feel they have the freedom to choose what they want instead of bowing to stereotypes.
Our children also seem to like themselves more, and in liking themselves, they also like their peers more. It’s as though the idea of liking themselves has been birthed. We are hearing comments (now and then, we’d like to hear them more often) such as “I like your hair” and “Your face is nice when you smile”.
In one lesson, the children were learning about the meaning of the colours of our flag. One little girl was very indignant at the fact that the black of the flag represented black people and that the white represented white people, “because we’re not black or white, we’re all just different shades of brown”. She decided that they got it all wrong.
Children in South Africa in front of a Think Equal board made for one of our programme activities.
What has been the children’s favourite book or activity?
Without fail, each group of children has absolutely loved “Wally the Wave”. It is definitely a firm favourite! I think as adults, we make the mistake of not permitting anger, especially in communities where we see so much violence; we merge the two and frown upon both. Reading this book frees the children to feel the anger and hopefully learn to regulate the response to that anger.
Cover of our Think Equal book “Wally the Wave”.
Please, tell us an anecdote that you remember while implementing the programme.
At the beginning of the year, one little girl was very otherwise with her new teacher. After reading “The Tale of The Baby Beetroot”, she went to the teacher and said she thought she felt like Baby Beetroot. She had expected this year to be the same as last year, yet she found herself in a different classroom with a different teacher and struggled to adapt. What a brilliant connection for her to have made! What a difference it made to her overcoming her struggle! Without the story, she would never have recognised that.
Think Equal teacher during a storytelling session of our book “Me, Myself and I”.
Could you summarise how the Think Equal programme has helped your children since you’ve implemented it?
As teachers, the Think Equal program has highlighted some genuine difficulties certain children experience in various situations that previously we wouldn’t have been aware of, or probably were aware of, but hadn’t recognised the enormity of the impact on the child. It also helped us set aside time for emotions to be discussed in a busy world where activities sometimes take preference leaving little time to be quiet and reflect.
We appreciate Sharon’s words and how clearly they describe the impact that our programme can have on early childhood. If you’re interested in the programme, we invite you to have a taste by downloading our free resource pack: Rainbows in Windows.