When you look beyond the math marks; how to tell that a child is growing?


Thembi with my scarf and books with a friend.

I was recently away from the office on a work-trip for two weeks. The first day that I came back, one of our Grade-2 girls, Thembi ran up to me and grabbed my handbag. Our children are taught respect in every lesson, so before I scolded her I waited to see what she was up to. Next, she grabbed a notebook and walked up to Anna, her tutor, threw out her arms, hugged her and said:

“Anna-Ma’m I missed you!”

Anna and I packed out laughing until we could barely breathe. She had done such an incredible imitation of me, it was as though I was looking at myself. Everything from the hand gestures, to the greeting, to the inflection in her voice – she had me down to a T.

It was hilarious.

But it was also a magnificent illustration of success that is often harder to measure than a score on a math test. It’s her growth in confidence. Thembi would never have dreamed of being so audacious when she first arrived.

With my glasses

Thembi with my glasses and Anna

Confidence, self-awareness and even humour are amazing skills and should be cherished and developed in children. Research is also beginning to prove the importance of what is understood as non-cognitive development to children’s later success in life. Confidence allows you to try things even when you are scared. It allows you to pick yourself up again when you’ve failed. It allows you to step into your full capability as a person .

It might be harder to track, but it’s crucial to place the development of the child as a whole person at the heart of education.

Source: Melanie Smuts, Director and Founder of Streetlight Schools. 21 March 2014

*To safeguard their identity, we use pseudonyms for all children.


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