Investing in early childhood development is vital
Since 2015 I have been trained as an Africa A+ fellow by the Okalahoma A+ team. Fellows are responsible for enabling pre-school teachers to become more creative in how they plan and teach. Through the eight essential principles (see www.okaplus.org) we assist schools to think holistically about how to integrate the arts and to be more creative. We’ve attended three professional development workshops facilitated by the Oklahoma A+ team. Last year we co facilitated our first school’s training with the Oklahoma A+ team. In January 2017 we facilitated a three-day training for the three pioneer schools who joined the network in 2015.
THE EARLIER YOU START THE GREATER YOUR IMPACT
Bright Sparks is an extra mural programme for early childhood learning in under-resourced communities. In partnership with Standard Bank, the Department of Economic Development and the Cape Craft and Design Institute we are testing a disruptive business model allowing facilitators or teachers to take full ownership of their programmes.
Bright Sparks provides parents with a choice they did not have before – to keep their children safe after school and stimulate their creativity and imaginations. Children learn to think out-of-the-box by playing with materials, using their bodies and pretend play. In just six weeks we witness children becoming more self-contained, happier, able to generate their own ideas and answer questions. They learn to believe in their ideas and to follow through on them – the essential foundational skills entrepreneurs of the future need!
Parents told us they needed better care for their children until the end of their workday. This programme offers parents a choice to keep their children in the safe care of qualified facilitators, and to also stimulate them through a diverse offering of creative activities.
Bright Sparks trains creative facilitators, tracks income, designs communication strategies and procures materials and food. Facilitators generate all their own content for the programme, adhering to some basic principles – is the activity allowing the child to solve a problem? Is the activity child centered? Is the activity fun?
CREATIVITY CLUB ZA teaches design thinking to the next generation of innovators.
We engage the eyes, the hands, the ears, the body and, most importantly, the brain to accompany children on a journey of creative discovery. We never place pressure on the child to produce an artwork; instead, we expose them to innovation and rapid prototyping. At Creativity Club the child’s natural creativity and problem-solving skills flow. We allow them the time and space to explore, invent and engage with the process in their own unique ways.
Our facilitators are the role model by withholding judgment, stimulating and rewarding unusual thinking. They use diverse means to encourage children’s creativity, imagination and abilities to problem solve and invent things.
With time we observe the child becoming more and more confident at handling a particular material with increasing diversity and awareness. They become our partners as we share equally in the magic of making. We also work closely with parents, eliciting their feedback and explaining the steps along the way.