In Grade R the timetable is called the daily programme and it is made up of three main components, namely:

  • Teacher-guided activities (Daily focus on Language, Mathematics and Life Skills);
  • Routines (Toilet, Refreshments, Tidy up); and
  • Learner-initiated activities or free play inside and outside of the classroom (DoBE,2011, p14).

The classroom must cater for these aspects in terms of its layout.

The Grade R daily programme:

  • carefully tailors balanced periods of structured learning with creative activities.
  • Is progressive, from guiding the learner from self-directed play to focused play and then to the formal activities in Grade 1.
  • determines the kind of interactions the learner will have with their classmates and educator.
  • develops the learner’s sense of safety and security.
  • helps to stimulate memory and routine.
  • caters for children with special needs as well as differentiated teaching.

The Grade R classroom

A well-designed and well-organised learning environment to support children’s growth in all areas of development should be:

  • inviting to children
  • full of interesting materials
  • set up to accommodate a range of activities and play.

It will encourage their exploration, creativity and active learning.

Symbol usage

Symbols are used to help children identify their belongings and allocated space and to create an identity until they recognise their written names. Each learner must have their own symbol for the following:

  • Pigeon holes / lockers
  • Birthday chart
  • Art area
  • Register
  • Duty chart


The Grade R play areas

  • The classroom must have clearly demarcated play areas that are well-resourced and organised.
  • The dividers (shelving) will assist in arranging the toys/resources and ensure that they are well arranged and labelled.


Focus areas and wall displays in the Grade R classroom:

 Theme table


  • Must reflect the theme of the week with objects, a poster and labels in the correct font.
  • The colour and phonic of the week can also be displayed.
  • The wall can have the birthday chart, general rules for the class, the number focus, and the weather board.
  • Theme discussions are focused on the resources on the theme table.
  • Learners bring in the items for the table. 
  • The theme table is developed over the days that the theme is covered and not all at once.



  • This area is away from the noise areas.
  • A shelf or box is present with a variety of books to choose from.
  • The floor has scatter cushions, a carpet and throw blankets.
  • A table may be included depending on classroom size.
  • The wall displays include a phonic frieze of sounds already taught in 3D as well as sight words introduced, picture sentence strips.
  • Relevant rules regarding the area are also displayed in picture form.



The maths area is an area that has:

  • number games and counters
  • patterning and threading resources
  • construction and measurement toys
  • resources for space and shape as well as data handling
  • maths perceptual games.
  • The wall displays include number symbol, dot, picture and word arranged sequentially as it is taught.
  • The wall includes geometric shapes as well as colours.



This area can be combined with maths and has:

  • wooden blocks (straight and curved)
  • construction toys and connectors.
  • Blocks come in many shapes, sizes and colours.
  • They are the perfect manipulative to use when teaching basic mathematical concepts as well as science.

Life Skills

Fantasy play


  • Life skills area is combined with fantasy play
  • This area can be rearranged according to the theme; children can engage in social activity through dramatic play.
  • The science focus of the week can be displayed here or on the theme table.
  • The walls include a picture blood policy, pictures related to HIV/AIDS.
  •  If the focus area in the morning does not have enough space, the birthday chart can be put here as well as the duty chart and symbol chart.



  • The wall must have clearly demarcated blocks for each child with their name tag and symbol in the correct font.


  • Provide enough space in the art area for children to work comfortably at easels, at a table, on the floor, etc.


  • The teacher’s table is the last entry in the class, depending on space.
  • The table should be small with adequate space for the teaching tools for the day.
  • Provide adequate closed storage space for materials which need to be stored, such as extra paper, poster paint and children’s snacks.
  • Provide a parent bulletin board in the entry area for posting lesson plans, information about special classroom activities, parent events or articles of interest to parents.
  • All the material and resources should be rotated and changed frequently based on the children’s interests.


Biersteker, L. 2010. Scaling-up Early Childhood Development in South Africa. Introducing a Reception year (Grade R) for children aged five years as the first year of schooling. Wolfensohn Centre for Development, Working Paper 17.
Department of Education.2001. Education White Paper 5 on early childhood development. Meeting the challenges of early childhood education. Pretoria: DoE.
Gauteng Department of Education (GDE).2009. Early Childhood Development Strategy. Johannesburg: GDE.
Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG).2009. Grade R Resource Manual. Johannesburg: Government Printers.
Department of Basic Education.2009. National Early Learning and Development Standards for Children Birth to Four years (NELDS). Pretoria: DBE.
Department of Basic Education. 2011a. Curriculum and assessment policy statements document Mathematics Grade R. Pretoria: DBE.
>Department of Basic Education. 2011b. Curriculum and assessment policy statements document Home Language Grade R-3. Pretoria: DBE.
Department of Basic Education. 2011c. Curriculum and assessment policy statements document Life Skills Grade R-3. Pretoria: DBE.
Department of Basic Education.2011d. National Protocol for Assessment Grade R -12. Pretoria: DBE.
Department of Basic Education.2011e. National policy pertaining to the programme and promotion requirements of the National Curriculum Statement Grades R-12. Pretoria: DBE
Wikipedia.N.d. (accessed 29 January 2014)