LITTLE RED DRAGON PRESCHOOL
The Little Red Dragon preschool class is a group of 24 children aged 4 – 5 years (Grade 00). In 2015, we piloted a multi-lingual approach whereby isiXhosa, English and Afrikaans were used in equal measure in the classroom on a daily basis, and the two teachers engaged in team teaching and translanguaging. Consultation took place with ECD linguistic and literacy experts in order to reflect on and refine the approach. Aside from valuing multiple languages, the objective is to prepare the children for a variety of options when they move up to Grade R and Grade 1.
There is a strong emphasis on learning through play and on literacy development through immersion in stories and books.
Although fees are charged, nearly half of the children are drawn from vulnerable families and are provided with bursaries.
The Centre has an active outreach programme to 4 under-resourced ECD sites in the surrounding area. This consists of helping them to access resources, as well as including them in our Parent Workshops and other training opportunities. Once a quarter, children from each of these 4 ECD sites are invited to visit the LRD for a literacy experience that includes stories, games, interactive activities, and access to books. They also spend time playing with the Little Red Dragon preschool children in our outdoor educational play area. This is a very exciting outing for these children and they love visiting the Centre. Our ECD practitioner, Ziyanda Mkalipi, also teaches them songs and stories in Isixhosa and makes use of translanguaging to ensure that every child understands the story, can retell it and draw pictures.
Our Clinic Programme consists of awareness-raising and information sessions for mothers and babies at 2 local community clinics. Sessions are held every fortnight through an interactive and informative programme that utilises the “Every Word Counts” material and focuses on early literacy. The moms and their babies love the free resources and Little Hands books that they get to take home. Most of the parents leave the session feeling inspired, motivated and determined to try out some of the advice and suggestions.
MOMS & TOTS SESSIONS
As a follow-up to our clinic sessions, we also go fortnightly into the community to encourage parents to talk, read or tell stories, sing songs and rhymes, play and interact with their young children. We take educational toys with us to allow the children to play and have fun. Most of these children have never held a doll or played with a toy car before these sessions. This is a platform for moms to come and share ideas, listen to each other and learn from one another. They also receive free resources and Little Hands books, as well as age-appropriate activity ideas to do at home with their children.