A FORMIDABLE sustainable development partnership is campaigning for the establishment of a viable early childhood development culture by recognising, acknowledging and rewarding the best players in this crucial sector.
It comprises of Absa, Sowetan, Unicef, the Basic Education department, SABC education, Social Development department, Jim Joel Fund, South African Congress for Early Childhood Development and the Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation.
The campaign is driven by the South African Early Childhood Development Awards, formerly known as the Absa and Sowetan ECD Awards. Nominations and entries are invited for provincial and national awards in the following categories:
l ECD practitioner of the year;
l ECD site of the year;
l ECD training and support organisation of the year;
l Innovative ECD programme of the year; and
l Best ECD publication of the year.
Overall winners for 2009 are Mary Mabatle, Phuti Rakgaphola, Melody Marescia, Hlengiwe Mthimkhulu and Georgina Bachelor. They are our selfless, talented and innovative trailblazers, as well as being ambassadors for the excellence that is direly needed in this sector.
Get your nomination forms from the South African Congress for Early Childhood Development's national office at 17 Lewis Street, Riverdale, Pretoria, or by calling 086-222-2592, or visitwww.sowetan.co.za. The closing date for entry is June 30. Provincial eliminations will take place between August and September while the national winners will be announced in November.
While early childhood education often focuses on children learning through play, other forms of nurturing children in a safe, protective and warm environment include reading to and with children, and encouraging them to express themselves through drawings, picture framing, singing and dancing.
Most of the provincial and national winners of the SA ECD Awards have told Sowetan through the years that early childhood education is a collective effort, in which parents are a crucial part of developing children socially, physically, creatively, emotionally, psychologically and even academically.
This is why most of these trendsetters recommend that the best role parents can play in helping in the ECD cause is reading to and with their children, as this helps to establish a base for knowledge, creative, critical and analytical thinking and self-expression.
ECD experts recommend parents begin reading to children at six months, with the most important age being when kids get curious.
Playing is a vital part of ECD, the practitioners say. It allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strengths. Play aids healthy brain development; and:
l Allows children to create and explore their rapidly evolving world, while mastering and even conquering their fears;
l Helps children to develop new competence-enhancing competencies;
l Allows children to learn how to thrive in team work situations;
l Ensures that children are able to adjust to an actual school setting, while enhancing their learning readiness, promoting adequate learning behaviour, and ease of integration into the "big school" arena.