Studies indicate that literacy and play are two of the greatest influences to children’s social and cognitive growth. It is this key area of Early Childhood Development (ECD) that formed the topic of discussion at the last National ECD Community of Practice (CoP) meeting on 2 March 2017.
Foremost education researcher and statistician, Nic Spaull, affirms that if you want to improve matric results, you need to start by cultivating a culture of reading in the early years. His research shows that South Africa faces a national reading crisis – the majority of its children are not learning to read in any language by the end of Grade 3. One initiative that is enabling access to the development of literacy foundations is CareUp: a mobile application that is targeted at empowering practitioners and parents of 4 to 5 year olds in low literacy environments. CareUp provides a 15-week ‘mini-curriculum’ that uses images and audio files which are available in isiXhosa, Afrikaans and English. The application is available as an Android app and mobile site.
CoP members also heard about Play Africa, an organisation which seeks to pioneer inclusive public learning spaces by bringing new ways of playing to children (1-10 years) and families. Their vision is to drive access to play, discovery and dreaming to create engaged citizens. Play Africa is in phase 1 of its plan and currently offer limited programmes at various sites and communities. So far they have targeted approximately 40 locations in inner cities and have worked with more than 200 ECD Caregivers.
Lastly, in keeping with the CoP’s theme of play, CoP members visited the ECD Exhibition at Sci-Bono Discovery Centre. The exhibition is a space for young children to access knowledge through experiential learning. CoP members enjoyed the opportunity to play with the display to their heart’s content.