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Learning through play introduced

In 2015, RCL Foods introduced a staff and community parenting programme in Worcester.

With an emphasis on “learning through play”, the programme focuses on offering information and practical skills to parents of young children, to Early Childhood Development (ECD) leaders and the local Department of Social Development. Over 200 of RCL staff enrolled in the six-month course and 40 ECD sites from the Worcester community have also signed up for the programme, impacting over 2 000 children in the area.

RCL Foods (previously Rainbow Chickens), one of biggest employers in the area, has a very strong commitment to supporting communities from which it draws employees.

Together with the Department of Social Development, the company has been working with the early childhood development forum and almost all pre-schools and play groups in Worcester. Last year, it started with a positive parenting programme where teachers were taught to work with what they have.

This year, RCL Foods deepened it by doing workshops with the aim of extending children's learning at home or school by strengthening their early literacy and numeracy skills.

The programmes were developed by Word Works, an organisation which supports early language and literacy learning among children from historically disadvantaged communities in South Africa. Along with other NGOs, the programmes focus especially on children who do not have sufficient early-stimulation experiences to succeed at school. Home visiting programmes entail visits to vulnerable families, pregnant women and young children.

The participating organisations hope to make Worcester the best possible place for children to grow up in. During the workshops they use methods on young children learning through play, which scientifically proves to be a good foundation.

Children do not like being talked at (“chalk and talk”), instead card games are introduced to extend existing language and literacy skills, so they talk about animals, where they live, what they eat and group them.

Learning through fun and games helps understand the world around one, recognise social rules quickly and concentrate.

“In this country we have neglected the early years and haven’t understood how critically important it is to give young children the best start to life so that they can go on to success,” said Pam Picken, Early Childhood Development Specialist.

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