We know that children everywhere learn best when they’re happy. At the Luminos Fund, we are dedicated to creating safe and inclusive environments where students can feel comfortable and enjoy learning.
To ensure children experience joyful learning, we develop meaningful and engaging lessons that meet students where they are. Most students joining the Luminos program have never been to school before, or have very limited exposure to education. As a result, we meet students at the beginning of their learning journeys and focus on the basics: foundational reading, writing, and math skills.
In addition to meeting students where they are, we ensure lessons are culturally relevant by using locally created reading materials in our literacy lessons, featuring familiar characters, settings, and activities to make stories relatable for students. Traditional games and songs, along with locally sourced materials, are integrated into lessons to help create a more familiar space for children.
1. Make Lessons Interactive
In Luminos classrooms, we use a wide range of teaching methods that span from structured, explicit instruction to more student-driven projects, depending on the topic being covered and the students’ level of understanding. However, a key feature of all lessons is that they are interactive, with plenty of opportunities for students to apply and practice what they are learning.
For example, in phonics lessons, Luminos teachers provide students with frequent opportunities to practice saying the target sound aloud, reading the new letter in words and passages — both as a group and in pairs — and writing. During a full class session, students might be asked to indicate with their thumbs up if they hear the target sound in a list of words.
2. Learning Should be Social and Collaborative
By encouraging students to work collaboratively in groups and pairs, we provide students with opportunities to practice skills, explore new concepts, and build confidence in a non-threatening way. This is especially important for learners who are shy or apprehensive about speaking in front of the class. Examples of collaborative work in pairs include making sentences with a new vocabulary word, summarizing the main idea of a lesson, or identifying the nouns in a short story before sharing them with the class.
In Ethiopia, students in the Luminos program sit in five groups: handicrafts, games, music, stories, and flashcards. Our teachers often assign different tasks to each group, leading them to practice the same content in different ways.
We believe that the social elements of the Luminos program also have an impact on students’ happiness at school and overall enjoyment in learning. Research on school climate has shown that when students feel more connected to each other, they feel more positive about school, providing an optimal environment for learning.
3. Incorporate Playful Activities and Games
Playful activities and games are an important feature in the Luminos classroom, serving to engage students, keep their attention, and increase their enjoyment of lessons. Whether played as a whole class or in small groups, they help alleviate the feeling of the school day being long, particularly for those who are new to it. Importantly, these games are always connected to the lesson’s objectives and reinforce the concepts or skills being taught.
Examples of playful activities include role play to act out a story to improve reading comprehension and practice new vocabulary, using a pretend market stall to buy and sell and apply addition and subtraction skills, and doing a word scramble with letters on flashcards to make words, apply phonics knowledge, and practicing spelling.
4. Use Physical and Multi-Modal Methods
Lessons in the Luminos program are multi-modal, meaning that they use tactile and kinesthetic methods alongside visual and auditory approaches. Our classes include frequent opportunities for students to move as they learn. Activities might involve jumping, running, stretching, dancing, and clapping, or the use of objects for interactive learning.
A tactile approach is especially useful for math lessons, where using physical objects helps students build their conceptual understanding as they can physically add or take away objects to solve a math problem. Once students have grasped a new concept using physical objects, they can transition to pictorial representation before moving on to using mathematical symbols. Teachers often take students outside for activities like throwing a ball to practice counting skills (for example, counting by twos, threes, or tens).
5. Empower Students
All our teaching methods aim to empower students in and by their learning. There are frequent opportunities for students to lead activities. In literacy and numeracy lessons, for example, students have opportunities to come to the front of the class and lead the class in a familiar routine like calling letter sounds for the class to blend, or numbers for calculations.
We also aim to build students’ sense of confidence by giving them specific responsibilities. Students are assigned specific roles which they perform on behalf of the class, such as being a teacher’s assistant, attendance monitor, and punctuality monitor. These responsibilities keep students engaged and develop a sense that the classroom is a shared space, while also creating a sense of pride in their work.
Our engaging and meaningful lessons provide students with knowledge and skills through a process that empowers them. By using these methods, we change students’ perception of education to something that is joyful, resulting in better learning outcomes and equipping them with a love of learning that will continue to benefit them throughout their lives.
Learn more in the Joyful Learning element of the Luminos Method!