Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Play to Learn and Learn to Play

With the release of the recent matric 2019 results, it was again clear that many of the youth that do not achieve the desired results are the ones who did not have a proper start and preparation for their formal school years.  For this reason, there is also an increased emphasis on developing the academic skills of children during their early childhood years.
The early childhood development system is aimed at preparing children for school by using play and informal learning to get certain basic skills printed into the inquisitive and absorbing minds of younger children.

The early childhood development centre focusses on the young child between the ages of 3 and 8, where play is used to teach children basic skills in five areas, namely cognitive development (solving problems), social and emotional development, speech and language development, fine motor skills development and gross motor skills development.

In the article “Why Children Need Play” Deborah J Leong writes that there is a strong belief that there is a link between play and the development of cognitive and social skills – both being prerequisites for learning more complex concepts as children get older.  She says that play is linked to growth in memory, self-regulation, oral language, and recognising symbols. Play has however also been linked to higher levels of school adjustment and increased social development.

The early childhood classrooms should therefore provide a unique setting to foster dramatic play that will lead to cognitive and social maturity. The role play (and friendly fighting over who will be the mommy and who the baby) teaches children to delay gratification and to prioritise their goals and actions.  According to Leong it also teaches them to consider the perspectives and needs of other people.  

Primary school teachers do not necessarily expect of the little ones to enter their classroom with complete mastery of spelling or addition.  After all, it is in the early elementary grades that they acquire these competencies. However, the teachers do hope that the children entering their classrooms can concentrate, pay attention and be considerate to others.  These skills are not developed by using flashcards or computer programs, but through interacting with peers during play!

It is however important that the parents form a partnership with the teacher to make the learning experience funParent involvement helps extend teaching outside the classroom, creates a more positive experience for children, and helps children perform better when they are in school.

You can for instance read to your child and help him or her develop their literacy, their ability to learn new words and it is also relaxing.  Play with your child – get drawn into their games and sit down on the floor when you play with them.  Be at their level – do not look down on them – even when you need to discipline your child.

It is important to also greet your child when you drop her off at school and assure her that you will be picking her up later. Try not to be late, and be interested in what they learned during the day. This gives the child a feeling of safety and makes the learning experience more positive as the child is not anxious about not being collected at the end of the day!

Child Welfare Tshwane offers early childhood development centres in Mamelodi and in Sunnyside to prepare young children for school. We believe that young children should be stimulated and offered the best possible opportunity to develop basic skills that will be enable them to perform at their best once they start school. 

We provide a safe and friendly learning environment, where the children also receive balanced meals and can take a nap in the afternoon. We charge a small fee from those parents who can afford to pay a small amount, just to cover the basic costs.  Most children however attend the centres for free, but they still get quality education and guidance.

Children that have left our care and started school have been performing very well. We follow the Curriculum of the Department of Basic Education, bringing our children on par with children from higher income families. 

For more information, contact Ms Hazel Mitas on 012-9437285 or hazel@childwelfare.co.za

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