Women’s Day seemed the perfect time for the women of our Early Childhood Development Programme to come together at Fynbos Retreat, to attend the Milkwood Workshop.
The workshop connected the 16 practitioners and programme team working toward quality delivery of ECD services to five centres that Flower Valley Conservation Trust supports.
Over the two days, the practitioners looked at ways in which young children learn, and how teachers can continue reaching them. The time together was spent making valuable connections as a team of professionals that deliver an essential service to young children and families.
The women also spoke of the importance of self-discovery as a mentor. They were encouraged to self-reflect and ask themselves critical questions during the forest walk and feedback sessions. And to express themselves artistically through clay and weaving art.
Taking a look at autism
Social worker, Kieran Whitley, also presented a talk on autism. She has focused her studies on children with special needs. Kieran explained how best work with children with autism, what techniques work best in high pressure situations and how activities like brain-gym can be used to benefit children’s development.
The women enjoyed getting to know each other during their stay at Fynbos Retreat. Nicole Arends, Principal at Seesterretjies Centre, noted how all the practitioners share a common goal: caring for the children in the Overstrand. She said this opportunity gave her a chance to share her knowledge and stories, while learning even more.
The Early Childhood Development Programme focuses on creating a holistic development environment for young children and their primary caregivers and educators, while weaving the green thread throughout their education. This can only be done when reflection takes place, and planning happens for the future.
We are looking forward to the next workshop later this year.
Cath made the move from Cape Town to the Overberg to help provide vital educational support and care to families in our region.
She completed a Bachelors in Library Science and her MA in Fine Arts at UCT, and a Diploma in Environmental Education at Rhodes University.
“Healthy children support a healthy environment”
Subsequent to that, she worked as an environmental education and research assistant on Anysberg Nature Reserve in the Little Karoo, and as a nature guide in the Cederberg. Cath has also undertaken administrative roles in Grahamstown, working at the Cape Provincial Library Services and Rhodes University.
She says, “I believe that children should live in environments that foster their development and self-growth in healthy and positive ways. That is every person’s right on a personal level. And healthy children and families also support a healthy environment.”
Connecting with government and communities
You may well see Cath around the Overstrand area, as her main areas of responsibility are to offer administrative and governance support and guidance to the fieldworkers of the home-based care programme, and to practitioners of the five centres. This will include liaising with municipalities, government departments, the Gansbaai community and social workers.
Cath’s favourite quote is “live and let live” and she hopes to support the growth and development of the ECD programme, to reach even more children and families in the Gansbaai area.
In the small fishing community of Buffeljagsbaai, a young woman is changing the lives of pre-school children.
Nicole Arends is the Early Childhood Development practitioner at the only pre-school in Buffeljagsbaai, Seesterretjies – ensuring young children are cared for while their parents make a living off the ocean.
Today Nicole has a job helping others. But things weren’t always easy for her – and she had to overcome many challenges to get to where she is today, as a practitioner part of the Flower Valley Early Childhood Development Programme.