It is tough being a kid, there are so many new things to learn at school, so many mistakes to make and so many tears.
So it was heart-warming to read about the teacher at Paarl Boys’ Primary school who actively tries to cheer up her class of Grade R learners by giving them high fives and hugs before they enter the classroom every morning.
Zuleka Smit, who has been a teacher for 15 years, said she did not think a video shared by the school on its Facebook page would take off as it had. It received hundreds of thousands of shares within a week.
The children, aged between five and six, have eight options on how to greet their teacher, depicted on a poster at the entrance to the classroom. A high five, hug, dance, elbow hello, fist pump, handshake, smiling and pinkie-shake are the ways in which the learners can choose to greet.
She says she was on her holidays in December, staring out at the ocean, when she was wondering what she could do differently for her class. Smit says she came across a video on YouTube, where another teacher was doing the same thing, and it inspired her to give it a go.
With 24 boys in her class, something she describes as a “huge privilege”, she says she wanted to do this because she believes it’s essential to build relationships with the children.
“They then realise they don’t have to be scared of me, they don’t have to be shy, and I honestly believe that without that relationship between teacher and learner, teaching can’t take place.”
Smit says her colleagues who teach the other two Grade 3 classes have also decided to introduce the greetings, and it’s been very successful.
“The boys can’t wait in the morning, they come to the class and tell their mommies ‘I’m going to give her a hug today, I’m going to give her a high-five’…we celebrate their uniqueness, and want to build character.”
Smit says at Paarl Boys Primary they raise gentlemen.
“Every foundation phase teacher should try this it really, really works.”
Watch the video here: