Effective parenting matters! While we value the significant role that teachers play in the shaping of a child’s early learning years, the role of a parent, caregiver or guardian is equally as important, if not even more so. The truth is, Early Childhood Development happens at home too and as parents spend much of their child’s formative years exposing them to new learning experiences, it would be remiss to think that parenting, in a cognitive development sense, doesn’t matter. We need to view effective parenting as an extension of the classroom, an opportunity to harness the full potential of a child by implementing the right parenting tools and techniques to complement the work that is being done in the classroom.
WHAT IS EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT EXACTLY?
“In the first few years of life, more than a million neural connections are formed each second – a pace never repeated again. The quality of a child’s early experiences makes a critical difference as their brains develop, providing either strong or weak foundations for learning, health and behaviour throughout life” – Unicef
Early Childhood Development (ECD) is arguably the most crucial window of development within which a young child’s future is significantly shaped. Often referred to as ‘the first five years’, ECD is an integrated approach to learning that weaves together the important intellectual building blocks of a child’s brain helping to ensure wholesome development and life-long learning ability. These building blocks are formed through early learning experiences and deeply affect the child’s future physical, cognitive, linguistic and socio-emotional development.
A parent’s active involvement in his or her child’s early learning experience is essential. Not only does it positively influence how they perceive the world but it can also affect their academic potential, attitude towards learning, self-belief and esteem. The modelling of appropriate social and emotional behaviour is also learned during these first few years, and is another area where parents can positively influence their children.
Realising the importance of Early Childhood Development and how effective parenting supports the life-long learning ability of a child, we took a decision in 2019 to broaden our iThemba Educare Programme to include the offering of a parenting course aimed at educating, equipping and empowering parents and caregivers of children from our partnering Pre-Schools with the tools and techniques to ‘Raise Highly Capable Kids’. Working in partnership with Focus on the Family Africa, a well known NPO whose focus is on ‘Helping Families Thrive’, this 14-week course seeks to address the fundamentals of parenting and provide parents the opportunity to share about their challenges, frustrations and perceived weaknesses in a safe and non-judgemental way, forming relationships and a supportive network in the process. Ultimately, the course aims to help parents ‘unlearn’ poor techniques and behaviours and instils confidence to build new ones that promote and support the healthy growth and development of their child. Parents get to celebrate their growth at the end of the course through an official graduation ceremony which is always full of joy and spirit!
Since introducing it to the Programme, we have been fortunate to have had this course roll-out in a number of our partnering Pre-Schools, the most recent being at Project Star and Project Light this year. Our goal is to facilitate this course in every one of our partnering Pre-Schools and we intend to offer this continually as new parents enrol their children in these Schools. Besides seeing parents openly embrace this course as a learning and development opportunity, we have been touched by the revelation that for many of them, this is their highest learning accomplishment. As always, we are so grateful to the donors and partners who help make this happen!
Below are the Schools that have benefited from this course:
- Project Joy – 2019
- Project Delight – 2020
- Project Faith – 2021
- Project Star – 2022
- Project Light – 2022
We aim to further the impact of this course this year by facilitating it in another 2 schools.
Learn more about our iThemba Educare Programme.