What sets 6-year-old Grade, 1 pupil, Keith Mashiane apart from his peers is a passion for reading, which has enabled him to fluently read up to Grade 5 level words and to speak four languages – Sepedi, English, Afrikaans and Zulu.
So impressive is Keith’s reading skills that St Anthony’s Primary School in Heathfield principal Colleen Rustin recently asked him to read to an assembly of 250 of the school’s Grade 4 to Grade 7 pupils.
“And they said, ‘wow!!’ and applauded him spontaneously,” said Rustin. “He is an eloquent and confident speaker and commands the attention of people when he speaks.”
Keith’s single-parent mother Nosipho Ngwende, from Wynberg, said he was born in Johannesburg, where she had enrolled him in Grade R at the age of 3.
“He was already speaking Sepedi, English, Afrikaans and Zulu,” said Ngwende, who subsequently enrolled him in Grade 1 in Zimbabwe when he was4.
After he passed, she enrolled him in Grade 2 at the age of 5 this year at St Anthony’s Primary, where Rustin decided it would be in his best interest to re-do Grade 1.
“At his age – having turned 6 in April – he should have been in Grade R this year, but he would have been bored,” said Rustin.
Ngwende said when Keith was a year old, he loved picking up papers to read and later started reading all kinds of books, including the Bible.
Keith’s teacher, Nina Benjamin, said she had successfully tested Keith on the Fry List’s 600 words for Grade 3 last week and he had also started working on the Grade 4 list.
“It’s words that cannot be sounded out; you have to be able to look at them and recognise and read them.”
Recently Benjamin got him to read 100 words from the Fry List for Grade 5 during an interview with the Cape Times.
“From the first day he walked into my classroom, the first thing he does daily is to pick up a book and read. It’s lovely to see a child with a love and passion for reading.”
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