By Lizelle Henegan

 

The Flower Valley Conservation Trust Early Childhood Development (ECD) team has further strengthened our partnership with the Creative Skills Factory during the past six months.

Together we’ve facilitated five workshops for practitioners who work at the six ECD Centres that Flower Valley supports.

The aim? To build on the practitioners’ existing knowledge of how children develop and learn in order to enrich their observation skills and support them in meeting the children’s needs.

Gabrielle Jonker Cook, the programme manager, and Kieran Whitley from our ECD Programme collaborated with Regina Broenner, occupational therapist of Creative Works, to facilitate the workshops.

Gabbi says, “There is a wonderful synthesis in our respective work as it rests in a deep respect for young children, combined with our complementary values, skills and expertise.”

Seventeen practitioners, which included both teachers and home-based field workers from different locations in the Overstrand, attended the monthly workshops.

The workshops were structured according to the following themes: The workshops were structured according to the following themes: 

• The developmental milestones of early childhood

• Sensory development as the base for all perception and learning 

• Stages of drawing and their relation to different ages and emotional stages of the child 

• The observation of play as a tool of early identification 

• And the teachers’ personal reflections on their role in the child’s life, as well as their own needs in terms of self-empowerment

Identifying the situations where urgent intervention is required:

The teachers gave feedback after practising the given observation tools and their input revealed that some children in their care showed developmental delays and might need immediate intervention. The teachers would greatly benefit from future tools and coordinated group efforts to support these children and their families.

“It is essential to build up a referral system and professional support for those children, parents and teachers in need,” says Kieran. “Once we start to train teachers in observing children at an early age, we need to follow that training up with support and solutions.”

The participants all agreed that they are looking forward to build on the foundation laid down during the workshops

Flower Valley and Creative Works have been actively seeking financial support to continue with this valuable endeavour.

Should anyone want to find out more, please contact: Gabrielle Cook Jonker at gabbi@flowervalley.co.za.