Winners urge lots of reading

THE Early Childhood Development Awards recognise, acknowledge and reward innovative, selfless, industrious and compassionate practitioners, teachers, managers and leaders .

THE Early Childhood Development Awards recognise, acknowledge and reward innovative, selfless, industrious and compassionate practitioners, teachers, managers and leaders .

Its sponsors and organising partners are Sowetan, Absa Foundation, Unicef, SA Congress for ECD, SABC Education and the Department of Basic Education and the Social Development Department.

Overall winner in the Best Practitioners category is Georgina Bachelor of Western Cape and her runners-up are Ayanda Xaba of KwaZulu-Natal and Beauty Masinga of Mpumalanga.

This week they highlighted the importance of reading for children. They cited several areas of development that would not be touched if we do not carry out this crucial task.

Masinga, of Jack and Jill Creche, said: "My children, most of whom are not yet able to read, enjoy the reading lessons. I read first, commit the stories to memory, plan a performance, complete with different voices for the various characters and then engage the children.

"Their memory improves and their comprehension is enhanced. They are able to put things into sequence, recognise names, shapes, sizes and measure distances by description. They even start to associate pictures with the stories they hear and recognise the first letters in their names. They develop an interest in reading and do well when they start to learn to read," Masinga said.

Xaba believes that children learn best if they listen.

"When we tell children stories, holding up a book, showing where the stories come from, and complete the tales with matching illustrations, we open a whole, new wide world for them.

"Where we read to children and allow them to imagine and fantasise, we help them to improve their listening, speaking and cognitive skills.

"We also unleash their creativity by incorporating the use of puppets, dolls, illustrative toys, huge pictures and storybooks. We encourage them to share the reading and to take part in group reading.Reading loud is the most important education and training exercise."

Bachelor loves reading loud to the children because she believes that this helps to nurture avid readers.

"They learn language, derive enjoyment from hearing about different parts of their environment and the wider world. Their creativity and imagination improves, especially when we read to them first, then show them the illustrations.

"Reading sessions also help children to learn new words, concepts and to rediscover their places in their environment, understand the importance of mom, dad, big brothers and sisters, teachers and others at home, school and the community."

Masinga, Xaba and Bachelor said that if we don't read to children, we stunt their language proficiency, limit their general knowledge and vocabulary and curtail their ability to interact with their peers and totally obliterate their potential.

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