The new year brings renewed commitment to enrich young children’s lives and provide them with a beautiful, warm and nurturing learning environment.

Building on past successes, the Early Childhood Development team at Flower Valley Conservation Trust aims to now deepen our support in the quality of training and resources shared with teachers and field workers. 

The following goals form part of the team’s continued focussed investment in children’s lives:

The launch of an outdoor class 

Natural, wild spaces offer children an optimal environment in which to nurture their inborn sense of wonder and play. A new lush garden space on Flower Valley Farm will become an extended play space for children as part of the Milkwood Programme.

Teachers will accompany the children on regular visits to the farm, where they’ll observe a simple programme that will encourage the children to freely explore the space and play. The visits will include ring work with nature songs, verses and a story. Each child will receive a small basket housing a soft toy in the form of a fynbos creature, which they will take back to the class, where continued activities will link their outdoor play time with their time at school. The children will also enjoy a hearty meal and have ample time to immerse themselves in the mesmerizing sights, sounds and smells of nature.

A mentor to support teachers

A newly-appointed mentor will support all teachers and field workers in their practical implementation of the Milkwood Programme. The qualified and experienced mentor will do onsite visits to observe and assist the teachers in all aspects of learning.

Two current teachers, Dorah Siduka and Sandiswa Mpela, have completed their level 5 qualifications and have been assisting other teachers in their home language, isiXhosa. Their support has brought about a positive shift in both the motivation and quality of practice of fellow teachers. The new mentor will further support their work.

The Butterfly Art Project

Five teachers attended the Butterfly Art Project in Muizenberg in October last year. They completed the Early Beginnings Module, in which art is used as a healing tool to help children process their emotions. The teachers learned skills with which to facilitate art in the classroom and also worked on their own personal development. They completed 20 hours of art activities that included art with pastels, water colours, clay, scrapbooking and loose materials. They handed in portfolios that will be reviewed.

As a highlight, they enjoyed a guided tour to the Zeitz MOCAA Museum and returned home with refreshed motivation and deepened skills. Flower Valley will continue our partnership with the Butterfly Art Project and we are looking at ways to bring the project to the Overstrand where more teachers can attend it.

“Wild spaces offer children an optimal environment in which to nurture their inborn
sense of wonder and play.”

The Nurture Project: Supporting inner work

Teachers can bring beauty and a love of learning into the world. They form an integral part of children’s lives, especially during the first seven years when children mainly learn through imitation. The Flower Valley team is researching ways in which we can support the inner work and life of teachers to aid them in their role as educators.

The teachers who attended the Butterfly Art Project in Muizenberg were shown how art could be used as a medium to connect with, explore and nurture their own inner selves. They greatly benefitted from the course and the ECD team will continue to build on this experience in future.

The team also aims to invite teachers on possible nature retreats. Time spent in nature combined with good nutrition, physical activity, and periods of self reflection will support the teachers’ personal health and wellbeing.

Two more centres to be registered this year

Two ECD centres will receive their Department of Social Development partial care registration this year. Registration is significant because in order to receive it, the centre needs to operate from a safe formal building with enough trained staff to meet the department’s set out ratios. In order to meet these ratios, schools need to source a significant amount of additional funding.

Seesterretjies, a small centre in the fishermen’s village of Buffeljagsbaai, will receive funds for staff salaries and running costs from a local branch of I&J, a South African fishery. Flower Valley supported the centre in brokering this invaluable partnership.

The Good Hope Centre in Masakhane will also receive its registration. The centre can grow to include an additional 60 children, with plans in place to register 20 of those children by April 2020. In the course of the year, an I Med vision training and outreach centre will complement the early childhood development work of the Good Hope site, through basic primary health training and intervention. Good Hope will also remain to be a site for ECD professional development and employment creation for emerging professionals.

Parenting programmes that support parents as first educators and primary caregivers of young children will be integrated into the existing services provided at the centre. Flower Valley will also continue to facilitate home visits to parents of children registered at Good Hope to provide them with basic information on early childhood.

Learn more about these and other future projects, or to make a donation.