The Importance of Early Childhood Development in South Africa – How Moving, Sitting and Sleeping Affect a Child’s Early Years
The importance of early childhood development in South Africa is often overlooked. While we tend to place a hefty amount of focus on High School and University education – we forget that early childhood development in South Africa forms the core building blocks of an individual’s life – all the way into their late formative adult years.
According to UNICEF, “Early years of childhood form the basis of intelligence, personality, social behaviour, and capacity to learn and nurture oneself as an adult. … Early interventions for disadvantaged children lead to improvements in children’s survival, health, growth, and cognitive and social development.”
Early Childhood Development Challenges in South Africa
There are many early childhood development challenges in South Africa that need to be addressed to create a balanced learning environment for future leaders of our country. While the quality of this level of education lacks in disadvantaged communities like Masiphumelele – charities supporting education like Masicorp have lent a helping hand to informal creche owners in the community by offering nearly 250 children weekly access to stimulation and early childhood education. This programme provides ECD learning opportunities for children who do not have a place in a pre-school and who are attending informal creches in Masiphumelele, as well as skills transfer to informal creche owners.
Children Need a Balanced Education
Most parents would agree that they try to keep their children active and help them follow a healthy diet while limiting their screen time.
Children learn the most through playing and exploring. We need to provide children with a balanced education that incorporates healthy habits into daily routines so that they become second nature – well into the adult years. That is why quality early childhood development in South Africa is so important – to teach children these behaviours from an early age.
The Guidelines for Moving, Sitting and Sleeping
Early childhood development in South Africa Statistics suggests that children who are active, are likely to be more engaged while learning, as well as being more adept at forming crucial social skills that ultimately result in a holistic education experience. Sitting down and focusing is also a core aspect of early childhood development. While there are benefits to reflection time and sitting still, it should not be made an idle habit that creates binge-watching series prodigies. Believe it or not, sleeping is one of the most important building blocks at this stage of early life and should be made habitual. Have a look at these guidelines below for more detailed information.
Children 1-2 Years Old
Toddlers aged 1-2 years should ideally move for 180 minutes of the day. This can be achieved with a range of physical activities at any intensity, including energetic play. This time can be divided up into a 24-hour day and doesn’t need to be consecutive. Sitting time should not exceed 1 hour, while screen time should also be capped at an hour. This age group of children require 11 – 14 hours of good quality sleep – including naps taken in the day.
Children Aged 3–5 Years
Children aged 3-5 years should also move for 180 minutes of the day. 60 minutes or more of this time should be spent on vigorous/energetic play. Sitting time should not exceed 1 hour, while screen time should also be capped at an hour. Children in this age group require 10 – 13 hours of quality sleep – including naps. Bedtime as well as wake up time should be kept consistent as a routine should be formed in the early years.
A Healthy Foundation for Future Development
The above guidelines for early childhood development in South Africa can be used by anyone who has an interest in the health and development of all children aged 0-5 years old. By equipping young minds with a balanced approach to education, movement, and sleep – we are preparing a generation of future South African leaders.
Masicorp is at the forefront of early childhood development in South Africa with 2 educares that provide quality ECD education for children from Masiphumelele. If you feel inspired by the work we do for the community, or if you would like to sponsor a child in South Africa click here now.