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Early Childhood Development & Learning through play.

Updated: Oct 3, 2022

Did you know that Early childhood development begins as soon as after birth?...

Contrary to popular opinion, learning does not start on a child’s first day of school or daycare but during the first 1000 days of the child’s life.

Simple actions from primary care to eye contact and how we respond to their cries play a crucial role in stimulating their brain and behavioural development.

In Q2, we held an event bringing together different ed-practitioners and stakeholders to explore and learn from how they foster Learning through arts and play.

The session kicked off with Franco of Cheza Cheza ( Metis Alumni C4) who led the audience through a session where they got to express themselves through dance. This allowed us to be aware and present and practically showed the audience how Cheza Cheza uses dance therapy for Social-Emotional Learning.

One of our speakers, Janet Mwitiki, then shared a nurturing care framework and touched on holistic development during ECD.

She sensitized us on the role of arts and play in early childhood development and how it can be integrated into different learning environments including being used to teach learners with disabilities.

Some of the benefits of arts and play that the collective listed include :

  • Arts and play help improve social skills as children learn how to interact with one another in a safe environment.

  • Numeracy and literacy skills are improved as children tell stories and count as they play.

  • Strategy, collaboration and teamwork, are key soft skills that are learned as children form teams and take turns.

  • Valuable life lessons are gained such as learning that you don’t have to always win in life, practice makes perfect among others.

  • Dance can be used as a tool to help children process and heal through emotional trauma.

The host and the remarkable duo led us through different tips and methods for better ECD practices. To name a few:

  • Channel your inner child.

  • Practice responsive caregiving & pay attention to non-verbal communication.

  • Ensure they have access to safe play and learning environments.

  • Stimulate play with dance and toys.

  • Practice Cost efficiency by using what you have.

  • Co-create with your kids and students. Ask them to make up games and build new worlds. This builds their imagination and helps grow their creativity.

  • If you miss that window of opportunity that you have in the early childhood years to bond and help your child learn and grow, another small window opens in their pre-adolescent years that you can take advantage of.

Our audience did not fall short of questions to ask.

A learning designer from Mshule asked how play-based learning could be used for deaf learners.

The power of play in children with disabilities has proved successful in engaging them and Franco from Cheza Cheza followed up with an example of how they correlated the Kenyan alphabet, using sign language to interact with deaf learners through sign language in their choreography.

We were also informed that for autistic children, learning through play helps with speech and physical coordination too.

As the event came to a close, several calls to action were issued to the collective, the most important one being that children should be given chances to draw, paint, act out and tell stories about their lives to promote self-awareness that will serve them well into adulthood as they create a ReimaginED world.

If you missed out on the event or want a re-run of the conversation, please click here to watch it.

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