Joseph Chilton Pearce, author famous for his ideas around the development of children once stated that “Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.” As an advocate for active and imaginative play, Pearce believed that play cultivates the mastery of one’s environment, which he termed “creative competence.” Children that lacked this form of play developed feelings of isolation and anxiety. Thus, play is integral to a young child’s development. Kagiso Trust, Cotlands and Sesame Workshop are key supporters of making play-based opportunities accessible to children irrespective of their socio-economic status.
Kagiso Trust et. al will be celebrating the 20th Anniversary of World Play Day with over 300 children at the Multi-purpose Centre in Zamdela, Sasolburg on Saturday, 1 June 2019. To raise awareness for this year’s World Play Day1 theme, “Play is a right”, Cotlands play facilitators have planned a myriad of activities for the children. Takalani Sesame Muppets, Zuzu and Kami, will be joining the children to highlight this year’s theme through song, dance and storytelling.
Sizakele Mphatsoe, Head of Education Development and Civil Society comments, “As much as every child has the right to education, Kagiso Trust believes that every child has the right to play. It is through playing that children learn. Early Childhood Education plays an important role in the foundation of a child’s education and holistic development. As we celebrate World Play Day, we must ensure safe spaces, both emotionally and physically, for children to play and be exposed to learning.”
“With such a large portion of the South African population being in low-resource settings, we continue to educate caregivers and teachers on the benefits that Learning through Play provides, as one of the most powerful ways for children to learn, develop and overcome setbacks,” said Innocent Nkata, Managing Director of Sesame Workshop South Africa.
Through forging strategic partnerships with Kagiso Trust, Cotlands is the implementation partner responsible to deliver a capacity building project working with early childhood practitioners in Sasolburg to improve and deliver good quality early play-based learning. Kagiso Trust has selected five early childhood development (ECD) centres in the community of Zamdela to help improve the quality of school readiness for young children. The role Cotlands is to assess the needs of the ECD practitioners from the five centres, identify gaps in their knowledge of play-based learning and to introduce a high-quality play-based programme that will increase their skills, and have positive developmental outcomes for the children attending the selected ECD centres.
Dr Monica Stach, CEO of Cotlands comments, “Capacity building is one of the vital programmes that Cotlands offers. Our training is hands-on, with ECD practitioners not only being told to read stories or to do outdoor play. We show the ECD practitioners how to read the story, we get them to read the story to us and then when they are with the children they are confident and able to make story time a meaningful learning activity. We follow the same see-practice-do methodology for all the components on the learning plans they are expected to implement in their ECD centres. Our work is rooted in best practice ECD principles, when implemented guarantee positive developmental outcomes for the children. We are working closely with practitioners to not only enhance their play facilitation skills, but we also provide 42 early learning plans to guide the activities children experience, and we help make toys from waste materials, or supply the resources they need through our toy libraries, which all contributes to successfully implementing play-based learning.”
Capacity building initiatives like the one in Zamdela results in more children optimally developing as a result of a range of play-based early learning activities. These activities develop children’s language skills, pre-literacy, social and emotional skills and fosters creativity and imagination. These initiatives build a solid learning foundation for children and will prepare them to reach their full potential in formal school.
1 – World Play Day is an annual event that takes place on 28 May, inspired by the International Toy Library Association (ITLA) and is celebrated in over 40 countries around the world.