Most children learn to read by the age of seven, but it’s the years that precede this that are most important for their development. In fact, babies and toddlers up to the age of three often already express their interest in writing and reading by recognising certain books by their covers, listening to stories, scribbling with a purpose, and demanding an adult read to or write with them.
While the myth of an adult’s attention span being only eight seconds (less than a goldfish!) has been debunked, today’s always-on culture bombards us with a never-ending stream of interruptions that easily takes our focus from one task to the next. Which is why it’s not uncommon to see a toddler use a smartphone or tablet like a pro.
But unlike adults, children’s brains are still going through the different stages of development. Reading, specifically, says Bilingual Kidspot, enhances a child’s concentration, encourages them to seek knowledge, exercises their brain, and develops their imagination and language skills.
Reading is also at the heart of all formal education and is crucial to a child’s early brain development, aiding in the improvement of neurological, psychological, social and linguistic functions. Yet, according to a report on Early Childhood Development by Statistics South Africa, 46 percent of 8.2 million South African children aged 0–6 years live in low-income households. Often, interaction, play, word-rich environments and stimulation does not happen at home in these communities, says GROW, a social-franchise early childhood development (ECD) enterprise. Half of these children do not receive any preschool or early child education at all, which is critical for their development and success later in life.
For this reason, GROW establishes high-quality ECD centres in historically disadvantaged and developing communities across South Africa. These centres provide a two-fold solution: quality education for young children, and a professional and sustainable business for the pre-school owner. Through the use of GROW’s Early Learning in a Box solution, which provides education equipment, training and mentoring, children graduating from the GROW Educare Centres at age five are significantly more prepared for school than children from the same socio-economic background who did not attend an ECD centre.
In order to ensure the ongoing development of children through reading, MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet has adopted 20 GROW Educare Centres for a two-year period to support their holistic education and business-sustainability outcomes. Each pre-school is equipped with a mini classroom reading corner, and reading is built into the weekly education programme. GROW also hosts parenting workshops in the community to impart parenting skills, especially reading.
Reading and early childhood development is key to children’s success in school, work and life. You can support GROW Educare Centres by swiping your MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet card at any participating retailer – at no additional cost to you. To sign up for a free card, visit www.myschool.co.za or download the App and select the organisations you want to support.