The formative years of a child’s life can never be fully recaptured at a later stage. From birth to around five years old is a season where young minds and hearts are shaped, laying the foundations for the journey ahead. The acquisition of language, problem solving abilities, numeracy, motor skills, reading and writing and the like are measurable in terms of developmental milestones, and have been shown to grow in proportion to the cognitive stimulation that a child receives.
Less publicised, but yet vital benefits of this process, include a love for learning which can be instilled in these formative years; a desire to continue growing and to embark on a lifelong journey of personal development.
Our advocacy efforts seek to dispel the misconception that ECD programmes are focused upon a young child’s academic development only. Instead, we are championing the practical implementation of ECD initiatives based on the following holistic definition taken from the Children’s Act 38 of 2005:
“The processes of emotional, cognitive, sensory, spiritual, moral, physical, social and communication development of children from birth to school-going age.”
Where young children do not have access to quality ECD programmes, the knock-on impact upon the next generation of school-going children is staggering. Figures from the South African Department of Basic Education (as quoted in the 2013 CSI Handbook) suggest that scores of developmentally-stunted children are entering primary school, leading to a downward spiral of low self-worth and related problems.
Research has underlined what we already know intuitively : a nurturing environment that fosters learning and wholeness is foundational to success at school and in life.
The work done by Heckman & Krueger, 2003, emphasises the exponential opportunity for growth that exists before school-going age by using economic contribution in later life as an indicator.
This, and similar research work undertaken around the world, highlights the cumulative effects of early intervention upon all spheres of development, including socio-economic indicators, which have a strong correlation with earning potential in later life.
At True North it is our desire to be instrumental in implementing and developing an ECD model that can be scaled to address the need in Vrygrond, the Western Cape, and the whole of South Africa..
Image adapted from Heckman & Krueger, 2003