About Us

The majority of learners who start Grade 1 in South Africa will not complete their schooling, which will exacerbate the unemployment crisis in our country. A child’s holistic development is often severely compromised when living under impoverished conditions. This has a dire knock-on effect in later grades, where learners struggle to “catch-up” with curriculum demands contributing to poor school results, drop-outs and associated social and economic consequences. In many cases this could have been prevented or mediated, had the developmental delays been detected and addressed early through a series of therapeutic interventions.

The Learning Initiative is concerned with the development of young children in the critical years before they start school. Our team of specialists (psychologist, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists) have, in association with the Western Cape Department of Social Development, developed, tested and implemented a therapeutic intervention, called Blocks4Growth, which equips young children in poor communities with the tools, techniques, enthusiasm and resilience that they need in order to thrive in school.

Contact Details

Website: www.thelearninginitiative.org

Facebook: thelearninginitiativeNPO

Instagram: thelearninginitiative

Email: info@thelearningiitative.org

Contact number: 083 227 0730

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Programme Content:

In 2016, The Learning Initiative (TLI) partnered with Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD) to develop, test and deliver a high-quality Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme that promotes holistic child development in order to better prepare 4 to 5-year-old children for optimal functioning within a formal schooling environment.

The Learning Initiative (TLI) has carefully and specifically developed the Blocks4Growth (B4G) programme which focuses on the concept of early stimulation in ECD in a holistic, effective and efficient manner. Focus in placed on the child and a supplementary goal is to build strong relationships with teachers and caregivers throughout communities. The fundamental belief is that each community member can be an individual block for growth and can contribute to building a strong foundation for quality education.

Our team of therapists assess young children (age 4-5) and facilitate the early identification and intervention of developmental delays. Children at risk of developmental delays receive therapy in fun, interactive group sessions twice a week, at their creche. Parents attend our practical skills workshops and are encouraged to stimulate their children at home. Teachers attend weekly coaching sessions with our therapists and we give them tools and encouragement to promote a health learning environment and implement age appropriate activities.

We are confident that this critical intervention plays a direct role in keeping children connected, motivated and determined to stay in school, making them employable and giving them the best chance to break the cycle of poverty.

Other developments:

NGO’s are approaching us to hear and vision screen more children in specific communities. We are also offering teacher training sessions to additional teachers, not part of the B4G programme. 

We would like to reach more children and families across SA by having our therapists develop 9 storybooks that are stimulating, culturally relevant, age appropriate, tactile and interactive. The books would include key developmental concepts as well as age appropriate discussion ideas which parents/caregivers and practitioners can use to turn story time into a meaningful growth experience. Parents will be encouraged to spend quality time with their child and to talk with them. Ultimately parents will be empowered to tell their own stories and to ‘be the book’. This will promote parent-child engagements and attachments.

 

  1. Context to highlight successes

External monitoring and evaluation has been a very important part of our project.  Results have shown statistically significant improvement in the children’s functioning. Overall, the children have improved to such an extent that they are on par or above “the average Western Cape child” in terms of their holistic development. Much improvement was also noted in the soft signs of learning for example self-confidence, concentration, impulse control and self-regulation. 

Over the last three years we have been able to prove statistically the effectiveness of the B4G programme. We have been able to improve the holistic functioning of vulnerable children so that they are able to cope in mainstream school.

We receive regular feedback from parents and teachers about the impact B4G has had on these little children and their lives. Many parents and teachers who receive the tools and guidance now feel empowered, equipped and encouraged.

‘Blocks4 Growth teaches us that there are many simple, easy, cost-effective methods to help us along. Many of us come from families where our parents didn’t finish primary or high school and our grandparents were illiterate. This is a step in the right direction for us who aim to break the cycle and empower/equip our kids with knowledge. I am grateful for these workshops in our area.’ Parent

‘Great ideas to use at home.’ Parent

‘Keep it up guys, this is the best thing ever happened to our kids’ Parent

‘It helps a lot to have someone other than your colleagues to talk to when it comes to work and students. A fresh outlook or opinion is always welcome.’ Teacher

‘I get new ideas every day and know which of my children need attention’.

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Draw-a-Person at Screening in February                      Draw-a-Person at Post-testing in November

Social Objectives

Our main social development objective is to bring about growth, independence and development in each community we work in. We pride ourselves on capacity building to empower and educate the community on the importance of early childhood development and spending time with our young generation playing, learning and gaining confidence in themselves. Our focus is threefold, the child, the parent, the teacher – this way we are able to impact more lives enabling everyone in each sector to make their own choices for their child, implement them successfully and invest time with their children. This ensures the sustainability of skills transferred and set in motion the ripple effect to reach more and more people in the communities.