As part of groundwork for establishing our Early Childhood Development (ECD) Training and Resource Centre that we are presently building in one of the most impoverished Cape Town township communities, we have employed resident teachers and community-based workers and started their orientation program that includes specialized trainings and workshops.
One of these is the training in Development-through-play (DTP) program that we developed over a decade ago and that was recently revised and updated. The DTP program is a positive, creative and wonderful method for young children to experience their preparatory year of education. It develops many skills such as listening, speaking, self-confidence, book awareness, knowledge of numbers and patterns, art and movement, self control and cooperation, social relationships, as well as gross motor and fine motor skills. The DTP method encourages children to learn through play.
It has been observed that any child who is given a set of toys to play with is likely to learn from the experience, however, if that experience is not structured in a way that fosters learning, it could be detrimental to the child’s development. Therefore, the ultimate goal of the DTP program us to provide a structure to the learning experience.
In July this year, our resident teachers and community-based workers have undergone an intensive three week training focusing on:
- How to use toys as educational tools
- How to learn through games and role-plays
- Introduction to free playing, a method that allows children to play without a teacher’s direction and build their own toys. This method stimulates creativity, innovation, and enhances independence at a young age.
In addition, we opened our pilot training site that serves as a model pre-school for the resident teachers to practice the skills that they have gained through this training. We enrolled 22 children (age 0-6) from our Sector for Orphaned and Vulnerable children that are benefiting daily from emotional, intellectual, physical and nutritional support.
The teachers are now able to practically apply the methods of teaching that they have learned though the series of workshops, and the caregivers of the children have expressed that the model pre-school is having a positive effect on children, as they continue to learn and play at home.
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