Original Research

Learning at home for Grade 1 learners in disadvantaged communities: Insights from the Sandbox@Home COVID-19-response intervention

Cathryn Moodley, Thato Seerane, Sarah Gravett
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 12, No 1 | a1046 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v12i1.1046 | © 2022 Cathryn Moodley, Thato Seerane, Sarah Gravett | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 June 2021 | Published: 21 February 2022

About the author(s)

Cathryn Moodley, National Education Collaboration Trust, Centurion, South Africa
Thato Seerane, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Sarah Gravett, Faculty of Education, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Background: The spread of the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) has escalated the need for studying the home learning environment (HLE). With learners spending more time at home, understanding about learning at home, especially in disadvantaged communities, is paramount.

Aim: The aim of this research study was to explore the HLE for foundation phase learners by analysing data from an intervention that aspired to support organised learning at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Setting: This research study was conducted telephonically with families from 11 schools (10 in the Waterberg district, Limpopo and one in Soweto, Gauteng).

Methods: Qualitative data (recorded phone interviews) were collected from caregivers and learners from 17 households. The interview recordings were transcribed and translated into English. The constant comparative method of data analysis was used to analyse interview transcripts.

Results: Three themes emerged from the analysis: (1) challenges of learning at home, (2) perceived benefits of learning at home and (3) the desire to continue with the programme even after schools re-opened. The data showed that having access to learning material facilitated learning at home. Additionally, caregivers noted benefits to learners from engaging in learning activities. However, there were also challenges in facilitating learning at home. These include caregivers not following the learning guidelines provided.

Conclusion: Caregivers appreciated having access to learning material and were willing to facilitate learning at home. However, the challenges they faced resulted in them not executing the programme effectively. Future studies and interventions should explore how to provide adequate and accessible support to caregivers.


home learning environment; COVID-19; foundation phase; disadvantaged communities; literacy; family engagement


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