Creative Kids seeks to remain on top
When The Gleaner compiled a ranking of top schools after the 2015 Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), Creative Kids Learning Academy came out tops for Kingston and St Andrew.
And the proud team and eager students are itching to keep themselves in this position. Founder and principal Haedi-Kaye Holmes is also the math and language teacher for grade six. She's very much like a second mother.
"What we do is start to work on their confidence," she said. "You find that if their confidence is not there, then they don't perform as well. Getting them to believe that they can do it is a huge factor in their success."
Once into their minds, Holmes zeroes in on each student's strengths and weaknesses.
"I take the weaknesses and then I build on them. The strengths, you try to motivate them to keep doing well in those areas, because if you don't pay attention to one, the other is going to lag."
Creative Kids has always had good results in the GSAT, always maintaining traditional passes and scoring 100 per cent passes, with class averages being more than 90 per cent.
Even though some parents want their children preparing for GSAT from grade four, that's not their style. They start the GSAT work in August, a month before the students officially start grade six. Holmes notes that the small class sizes help them get through the material quicker as well.
"I let the parents know that in December, you're not going to see the 90s and 100s because you don't want them to peak too early," she said. "But from January to GSAT (March) is where we really bear down. By then, we've gone through all the material they need, and they are now ready to apply what they've learnt. Their application skills are much better in January."
Holmes is well aware of the competition for top schools and knows this puts extra pressure on the students. She said the students have to have the drive to be successful.
"Even though you try not to stress them, inadvertently it becomes stressful because they want to work for it," she said. "So what I do with my class is a lot of motivation."
In 2015, Holmes participated in the Scotiabank Vision Achiever programme, and one of the mantras used was an emphasis on not being a victim, but being a victor. Holmes has tried to pass this on to her students.
The GSAT students also have Talk Time, a session where they can simply relate how they're feeling. The wider family gets involved, utilising a grade-six group chat. To further calm the children, they have fun activities the day before the exam.
"The class that I have this year has varying abilities, and there is pressure on them now - because we've been ranked the number one school - to live up to that," she said. "We try to let them know that it's not about being number one; it's about them doing their best. And if they go into that exam and give their best, then I will be happy with that."