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Masikhule trains ECD educators in marginalised communities on Early Childhood Development and early learning skills.  Our theme-based Early Learning Program for 2 to 5 year olds is key to this.

Community-based Early Learning Centres are empowered and guided towards independence.

Over 2 000 children from birth to 6 years of age are educated and nurtured in these pre-schools each year, providing them with a sound early learning program and the best start in life.

Our Vision

By responding to the needs of Early Childhood Development (ECD) within marginalised communities, Masikhule supports and develops ECD educators and children to achieve their full potential, and thus also the sustainable wellbeing of the community.

Our Mission

To train, develop and support ECD educators from marginalised communities to ensure children have access to holistic early learning programs and resources, so that they may enter formal schooling with a solid foundation of knowledge, skills and independence

TRAINING

Education is essential to a child’s development. The economic benefits of investing in children have been extensively documented. Investing fully in children today will ensure the well-being and productivity of future generations. By contrast, the physical, emotional and intellectual impairment that poverty inflicts on children can mean a lifetime of suffering and want – and a lasting legacy of poverty.

Early Childhood Development intervention, with babies and young children being exposed to appropriate early stimulation, is critical for providing the foundation for life-long learning and productive participation in life.

An Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centre is a site where the holistic development of children from birth to six years is nurtured and developed by providing a safe environment and a sound education programme in partnership with educators, parents, community and government.

Masikhule’s ECD training courses have been developed over many years to offer ECD educators holistic, practical and stimulating content. Our uniqueness lies in the fact that our theme-based Early Learning Program has been overseen by a team of specialist Occupational Therapists and educationists with specific input to ensure learning and development is inclusive, remains focused on development through sensory- and perceptual-motor play and sensitive to the needs of all children.

Through focused training, mentorship plus monitoring and evaluation (M&E) our program has developed into a model that we believe will positively impact the growth and development of all pre-schoolers and should be available to all ECDs (and parents/caregivers).

MENTORING

ECD Centres implementing our Early Learning Program receive mentorship during and post training.  Mentorship includes assistance with strategic planning, monitoring, coaching and the practical implementation of the program at these Centres.  This can also include our Occupational Therapist visiting the Centres, assessing the children and providing guidance to the staff as well as parents when developmental delays and learning difficulties are identified.

From experience we have found that merely offering training, no matter how practical, does not guarantee a carry-over of this knowledge into the classroom situation. Regular communication is vital to ensure the sustainability and ultimate growth of these Centres.

Through our training, mentorship and capacity building we aim to
assist Early Learning Centres to become:

  •     are registered, well-resourced, well-managed and well equipped;
  •     staffed with qualified and dedicated educators;
  •     proficient in implementing a holistic Early Learning Program.

ECD EARLY INTERVENTION

In 2019 Masikhule embarked on a project to develop a theme-based curriculum for 2 to 5 year old children at their most receptive stages of development, and which is relevant for the South African population.  The content has been developed by a team of Occupational Therapists and educationists who have vast experience working within the ECD sector, and community-based sector. This Early Learning Program not only provides structure to keep young children on track but is designed in such a way as to encourage independence, problem solving, decision making, creativity and ultimately empowerment of the educators, caregivers or parents when implementing the Early Learning Program.

Theme bags have been developed and are stocked with all the resources needed for the educators to successfully implement the program. To enhance this, there is also continued access to our Educators’ Early Learning Resource Library which has grown since 2016 to supply multiple centres with relevant classroom and teaching resources including educational games, toys, age- and language-appropriated books.

Young children from marginalised communities, including informal settlements, attending ECD centres are at risk of not reaching their physical, mental, social and learning potential due to a number of factors. The most important being the dire physical and socio-economic environment in which they live, poor nutrition and attending crèches that are mostly under-staffed, unregistered, under-resourced, over-crowded and staffed by untrained women. Over the past 15 years, Masikhule has put measures in place to address these concerns, and the Early Learning Program should further enhance their impact on ECD, empowerment and employment in the marginalised areas surrounding the Helderberg.

EARLY NUTRITION

Healthy eating is important for every individual at every stage of their life. The regular consumption of fruit, vegetable and whole grains has been well documented to decrease the incidence of non-communicable diseases (heart disease, diabetes, stroke and certain types of cancer) in later life. Simply put; healthy eating is an investment in one’s health and future well-being.

This investment is especially important for young children under 5 years as these years lay the foundation that shapes children’s future health, growth, development and learning achievement at school.

To address and prevent malnutrition Masikhule has, under the guidance of a registered Dietitian, developed an Early Nutrition menu.  This menu, which includes guidance on portion sizes, ensures the children have an optimal nutritional base from which to grow, develop and learn, and that this is achieved with the lowest cost and minimal waste.

Adequate and correct nutrition during the first five years of a child’s life are particularly important for the development of the child’s brain, providing the base for the brain’s development and functioning, directly impacting on how children develop learning skills as well as social and emotional abilities.  We have been fortunate to partner with JAM SA and other nutrition partners to facilitate feeding schemes in most of the ECD Centres that we work with.

ECD RESOURCES
Teachers’ Early Learning Resource Library (ELRL)

In 2016 we launched our ELRL and the ECD Centres that have become members now have fortnightly access to:

Educators and classroom resources which include theme packs, resource books, classroom visual aids and equipment.

Theme-based lesson plans, activity ideas and material necessary to implement the learning programs.

Age-appropriate educational toys, games and books for the children as well as inspirational books for the educator.

Further training in the optimal use of these resources and educational materials by a trained Community Worker.

Laptops and printers.

EARLY LITERACY DRIVE

All children, of all ages, need to have access to books to improve early literacy skills, to develop their minds and aptitude for learning, their communication and language skills, their imagination and to expand their understanding of the world.  Reading (and being read to) is also a perfect way to de-stress and relax.  And it is fun!  Many children living in marginalised communities have a severe lack of access and exposure to reading material.  As part of our desire to introduce young children to the wonderful world of books, we aim to install a reading corner at each and every one of the ECD centres we mentor. Each reading corner will consist of a variety of age- and language-appropriate books and items to make the reading experience even more pleasurable, enticing and homely, such as comfortable cushions, mats, blankets, soft toys and wall decorations.

 

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