Slovakia: LEGO Helps Children Learn Geometry

Revuca, Comenius Primary School

middleschool2The Comenius Primary School in Revuca – a town where the very first Slovak Grammar School was founded, is attended by no less than 20% of pupils from an underprivileged background. In many classes there are more than 30% of such pupils, mostly of the Roma origin. There are usually no problems with the first-graders as the school runs a preparatory year for those with difficulties. It is in their 4th, 5th and 6th grades that these pupils begin to fail their exams because they cannot keep up with the rest of the class. Moreover, their primary interests usually lie elsewhere. These pupils receive very little support from their parents.

Special training for teachers, a more intensive collaboration with parents, but mainly the after-school study groups for pupils had helped 60% of them to improve their results. Pupils with learning difficulties were helped by their talented peers together with their teachers. “They began to do their homework on their own,” says the program coordinator Jana Vavrekova. “Even though they’ve made several mistakes, their effort is commendable. As a result they enhanced their ability to pay attention to what is said in the class, they stopped disrupting the class and began to improve academically.”

Major improvements can be spotted in natural sciences and “Homeland Studies” (an introductory subject to Slovak History and Geography). As a part of biology classes, pupils were encouraged to work on small-scale projects on a topic of their own choosing. Mathematics and logic still lag behind. Building kit – LEGO – has helped in geometry classes. “These children have never seen LEGO before. It helped them to develop their imagination; they began to build on their own. This has helped our geometry classes to a large extent,” says the coordinator.

A very important factor that could help these pupils to improve their academic performance is cooperation with their families. This cooperation improved considerably. Roma parents welcomed that their children are encouraged to use aids and books they do not have at home. The fact that the children’s academic performance and motivation improved prompted their parents to supervise their preparation more closely. The teachers, similarly, are more motivated seeing that their effort came to fruition.

The Education Program of the Open Society Foundation Slovakia helps to eliminate cultural and social exclusion of pupils and supports educational actions and strategies which allows integrate and/or reintegrate them. Emphasizing the position of school as not only the institution where to get an education but the school as the important actor of community living, OSF granted 15 projects of total 64 136 EUR in 2010 to enhance integration of children with special educational needs.


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