Many experts say that early learning gives children a head start when they go to school. But what kind of learning and how much? In this edition of Learning World, presented by Maha Barada, we take a close look at various different approaches.
The reports are outlined below, watch the video for much more information.
South Africa: Better with toys
Our first report takes us to South Africa where many children need proper food and clothing, let alone early learning experiences.
Due to a lack of learning tools and toys many of those who attend crèches in the city of Durban sit and wait all day long in one room for their parents to come and pick them up when they finish work.
Several studies have shown that inactivity among youngsters prevents the development of their cognitive skills, making learning at a later age more difficult.
The Unlimited Child is an NGO founded as a social programme aimed at distributing educational toys to crèches across Durban. People can help by donating their time, expertise or by giving money to buy toys.
So far 370 crèches have enrolled in the programme, serving some 32,000 children. The Unlimited Child aims to help 1.25 million children by 2020.
USA: Words count
In our second report we travel to the United States to explore the 30 Million Words project.
Doctor Dana Suskind, a Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics, has been researching how big socio-economic disparities affect the amount parents talk to their children. It found that by their fourth birthday, children born in affluent families had heard 30 million more words than children born in low-income families.
She founded the 30 Million Words Initiative, which aims to narrow that word gap by helping low-income parents engage in crucial conversation with their infants. According to her, babies are not born smart, they are made smart by parents talking and interacting with them
Toddlers in the ’30 Million Words Initiative’ are too young for school, but Dr. Suskind believes the enriched language experiences the programmes provide will bear fruit in the classroom.
Thailand: My Mushroom Project
From the US we go to Thailand where we meet one award winning teacher who believes there are no limits to how much infants can learn.
The My Mushroom Project was created by Suthatip Sangsai in 2013. It is an inspiring project using information and communication technology (ICT), and brings together parents, students, technology and social media.
Suthatip’s project won Thailand’s Innovative Teachers Award in 2013. It also includes basic education, such as mathematics, art, computer and social skills.
In Thailand, more and more kindergardens are following her model. She hopes that the ‘My Mushroom Project’ will inspire other teachers to create more innovative teaching models around the world.
Talk to us
So what do you think? Is early learning important, or not? What about learning through fun activities and play? Share your experiences and opinions with us on our social media pages.