Models of Early Childhood Development

Formal vs. Informal Settlement ECD

The two major models of ECD in South African society are centre based and non-centre based. Centre-based models are generally located in formal communities with a structured curriculum, while non-centre based models are located in informal settlements and focus on family-community support and interactions as a form of learning. Though there are pros and cons to the two different models, centre-based education seems to successfully serve the purpose of preparing children for formal schooling, starting in Grade R. According to Ebrahim, centre-based education has positive impacts on children in cognitive development as well as positively affecting children’s self-confidence and motivation. It has been observed that children who attend centre-based facilities have a higher likelihood of remaining in school. Though there are many positive aspects of centre-based ECD, its downfalls include the inaccessibility to all members of South African society, the cost of attending these crèches, as well as the over capacity of children in such education centres (Ebrahim, 2012b).

Although, centre-based education has its advantages, non-centre based education has differing positive qualities to offer ECD. Non-centre based education typically occurs in informal settlements within the home and community of children through caregiver support of ECD, family outreach programmes, and playgrounds. It has been stated that non-centre based education strengthens the community dynamic and promotes “bottom up initiatives.” This type of education allows members of the community to not only create employment opportunities, but also allows them to showcase their skills within the community. Due to the focus of the non-centre based model, families are encouraged to remain active throughout the child’s educational development. (Ebrahim, 2012a). For children under the age of three, who are stimulated through learning and interacting in a less structured environment, this approach is more suitable. South African traditions are often integrated into their daily learning. Another benefit to this type of ECD is the accessibility to the community (Ebrahim, 2012a). Family outreach programmes and playgroups are also used for those without access to a formal ECD experience. Family outreach workers visit homes in communities to teach caregivers how to provide ECD within their home and to work with the child while the caregiver is watching, therefore the caregiver can learn ECD methods. It is beneficial in some cases for outreach workers to facilitate playgroup activities with both children and caregivers in local parks or community centres (Atmore, Niekerk, Ashley-Cooper, 2012). Though it can be expected that centre-based educators have a higher level of training, as of 2012 only twelve percent of  centre-based educators were fully qualified in ECD (Atmore, Niekerk, Ashley-Cooper, 2012). Therefore, non-centre based caregivers and educators are not necessarily less qualified in terms of ECD compared to centre-based educators. Non-centre based crèches may be prone to yielding to economic or social pressure due to the lack of government resources, as a result of being unregistered (Ebrahim, 2012a).


School-Family Collaboration in ECD

In South Africa, it is acknowledged that ECD services in tune with family needs and community resources, will have long-term “increased economic activity and productivity within the community” (Ebrahim, 2012a). Ebrahim states that a combination of home-based and centre-based education would be most beneficial for South African children because of the family and community collaboration. She reports that there are many positive impacts of school-family collaboration including: academic success, higher self-confidence, positive outlook and attitude towards education, increased attendance, and better behavior. School-family collaboration is an important principle of Kiddies College Preschool. Without school-family collaboration children may not be encouraged to further education, which may lead to lack of discipline, destructive behaviour in school, and may go as far as no longer attending school (Raborife, Phasha, 2010). Even if school-family collaboration is encouraged, there are many obstacles that can prevent parents or family members from being involved in the educational process of their children. These include, physical constraints such as the lack of street lighting to allow parents to attend school meetings in the evenings, as well as time constraints with work or other commitments. Also, there are certain aspects of school life that present barriers to school-family collaboration in South Africa. Teachers at times may be insensitive to the children as well as their parents. Often there is also an unwelcoming environment in the school to certain culturally different parents and a lack of communication on the school’s end to such parents. A third factor to consider is the significant portion of the population that is affected by HIV/AIDS , such as the many children who are orphaned by the death of their parents due to this illness (Raborife, Phasha, 2010). Although there are obstacles and difficulties that families face every day in being a part of their children’s education, there should be great effort put forth to support school-family collaboration throughout all levels of education.


The Effect of Different Design of Facilities on ECD

Along with school-family collaboration, a quality and effective ECD experience can be provided through the design of physical space within a classroom. The physical layout of ECD facilities plays an important role in the effectiveness of the child’s learning experience and behaviour. An effective classroom design and layout can reduce the behavioural issues of children so the teachers can be more focused on teaching the children pertinent lessons (Swim, n.d.). For example, if the first thing the child sees upon entering the classroom are cubbies, the child can expect that when they arrive, be taught to go straight to the cubbies to store away their belongings in an organized manner.

Open classroom settings with barriers between learning areas can teach the child what is appropriate in what area. For example, the kitchen play area can be separated from the colouring area by a barrier, which will show the children colouring is only allowed in one area while the other area is for playing. One way to utilize barriers efficiently is to make them storage shelves. This will allow for more space in the classroom, which is sometimes a problem for crèches. Consider storage place in the classroom, if the child is expected to be independent then toys should be placed on shelving or storage units that are accessible to the child.  Children become responsible for removing toys or supplies when using them and putting them back when done.