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Playing is serious business in learning for Durban North organisation

Wegerle told the Domino team that during free-play periods, the children choose where they want to play, how they play and who they play with.

THE Domino Foundation’s Early Childhood Development team from Durban North recently attended a workshop on running and managing the environment in an early childhood development (ECD) centre.

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The team, hosted by We Friends Preschool, shared insights, ideas and strategies on planning at the meeting.

“Our Field Workers visit our 50 partnering preschools once every two months to mentor the educators to provide a stimulating learning environment for the children. Training our own field workers is essential to the success of our ECD programme,” said Domino’s education co-ordinator, Nicky Walton.

Taryn Wegerle, principal at We Friends Preschool, said learners should be playing and having fun.
“Our learners’ day should be spent having fun, learning and growing spiritually, physically, intellectually, emotionally and socially. Because learning through play is one of our valued principles, we create opportunities and intentional moments for it to happen,” she said.

Wegerle led the visitors through We Friends’ teaching strategies of active learning where children are given opportunities to stimulate their learning, learn independence through having choices and are actively involved in learning particularly through play. She also spoke about self-discovery.

“We don’t tell a child that they are bad but rather we will tell them that it is not how we behave towards each other, saying, ‘I can see you are angry … how could you have behaved differently?'”

This is followed by thinking time – what the school calls ‘Reflection’ – when an opportunity is set aside for children who are misbehaving to go and sit to consider their behaviour, reflect and improve.

“Encouraging them to explore and discover enables self-discovery and active learning. At the end of day, there’s a reflection time when the child discusses with the teacher where they played, who they played with, what they enjoyed about it and what they would do differently next time,” she added.

One of the Domino visitors, Happiness Zulu, was very enthusiastic about the time spent at We Friends: “It was part of our own journey of learning, and we feel more equipped to help empower our ECD teachers in better teaching practices.”

Email Taryn@wefriends.co.za for more about the ECD programme.

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