I had been conducting workshops in Ghana for four years before the Acropong Region adopted it in 2010-11. Rose Ofari was the Primary Co-ordinator at the time. These were her words when teachers started using Every Child's Path.
This program is wonderful. It is here to stay. We want it to be extended to all the schools in this district so that all our children can enjoy good education.
With each lesson in Every Child’s Path, the children are expected to answer many questions about what they see on the Noticing Mat. Because they get frequent practice in how to respond, they are able to answer questions in sentences, using English. They are ready to do everything with confidence. The praise that is promoted, motivates the children. With feedback, even if they are incorrect, they try once more and are able to correct themselves. The way the program is planned, they notice many things and analyze what they notice. They see details, similarities, differences and pick out the most important things. It carries over to other subjects and makes teaching easier. You can’t believe it. The schools using Every Child’s Path are called the Noticing Mat Activity schools.
Selassie Kodjo started the Youth Hope International School for underpriviledged children who were not attending school. He was the first to introduce Every Chil's Path to Ghana. These are his thoughts on Every Child's Path.
Every Child’s Path is the best thing that has happened to our school. We are now ranked among the best pre-schools in La, Accra. Prior to the programme we had 87 pupils. Soon word went round as to how our pupils were doing. The number of pupils tripled and soon we needed an additional classroom, and have a waiting list. It is the state of affairs to date.
The simplicity of language, the common vocabulary between teacher and pupils, and the practical nature of the programme make each session an exhilarating experience for both teachers and pupils. This is what every school needs.
Tina Gogo, had used the program in Selassie Kodo’s school for three years. She was instrumental in this year’s training of teachers with Rose Ofari. These are her comments:
I teach 59 children who are three and four years old. This program is enlightening. My children have learned how to notice many things and have responded very well. They are always excited about the mat and are interested in what we will be doing. The children have learned how to answer questions in sentences and are learning how to write. Teaching this program is very easy and enjoyable. It has much impact on the children. Children who move on to the next school have great achievement. One child had to be moved up from class one to class two.
Other teachers at the Youth Hope International school have said the following:
I have 59 children who are three and four years old. The children have learned a lot of things. The program itself is very very exciting. It keeps them concentrating, calm and quiet. My children performed very well when they moved on to their next class. (They have Every Child’s Path the next year.)
Whenever I take the mat out, the children (35 who are two and three years old) want to know what exercise they will do. They sit down and are quiet. They put on their Noticing Glasses and repeat what others said they noticed, so they become good listeners. The whole program develops children’s skills and minds.
I have been using this program for a year. (She has 55 children who are four and five years old.) This program gives tremendous support. The children notice many things. They know where to start writing and can speak in sentences. They have fun and want to participate.
Teacher trainers from the Acropong District have provided the following feedback:
I have been teaching for 24 years using other programs, but I prefer this one. It is very good. My children are able to grasp whatever I teach in class because what they have learned in Every Child’s Path helps in other subject areas. They answer and speak in simple sentences. They notice sounds of the alphabet. (We made a Ghanain alphabet where the letters look like something the children would know that began with that sound. s is a snake, t is a tree etc.) They have learned how to put the consonants and vowels together to make simple words. They know how to compare things they notice. This program has made a big difference.
This program is easy to teach now, but I found it difficult at first because it was so different. My children are responding very well. They like to talk about the Noticing Mat and speak in sentences. I teach the children in groups. Every Child’s Path is very good. It is good for the children because it helps them do many things.
The children are happy to see the Noticing Mat. They are quiet because they all want to be on it. There is not enough room for the mat in my class, so we sit outside under a tree. My children have learned how to speak in simple sentences in English and they know their prepositions.
I believe this program should be taught before most others because it provides a solid foundation for spatial relationships, directionality and related language across the curriculum. Its many connections give the children a better sense of how these necessary, basic concepts fit into their world. Apart from that, the children are totally engaged, and I enjoy teaching it.
I think your program speaks for itself. It is great having a powerful math, literacy, and PRINTING program all in one. I isolated the printing last week, and am teaching it in lessons according to your lesson plans. I think that every child, even the ones with weak fine motor skills, can learn confidence AND proper printing form, using your idea and plans. In fact, during interviews I showed the parents your book and reviewed with them what we were doing, and how to continue at home. All of them were very positive about it. On Thursday, I gave everyone a new whiteboard from the dollar store, and went on to stroke 2, the straight down stroke, with its letters. It went so well. No one said I can’t because they could all make the right starting stroke, and it was then so much easier to make it like the model. I am very excited about the concept of the 4 starting strokes, and wish I had done this program years ago. It makes printing lessons so effective, so quickly!
Every Child’s Path is well organized and easy to use. The great interaction and use of the mat itself keeps the children’s focus. They can’t wait for an opportunity to participate when I bring out the mat. They love the program and are 150% involved. Behaviour isn’t an issue because I can involve my children throughout the lesson.
After Christmas I joined Kirsty’s class for Every Child’s Path. Since she had started the program in the fall, I could see a real difference between the classes’ responses to questions. Her children knew all the vocabulary, and knew how to use that vocabulary to answer questions.
Although we have just started using the Every Child’s Path program, I can already see that it is very practical. When I tested the children on Concepts about Print, (Marie Clay’s Observation Survey in Early Literacy Achievement) without hesitation, they explained the concepts shown (in literacy) because they had already been introduced to similar concepts in Every Child’s Path. When writing, the children all knew that we begin in the Starting Corner.
This program is just what my children need. I really like the fact that it is so language-oriented. This is really good for our immature, needy little guys. Insisting on using complete sentences throughout the program is wonderful and carries over to show and tell and story writing. The sequence of questions is great because it keeps them thinking.