The Play Schemes give pre-school children the chance to gain information, ideas and skills in a stimulating and caring environment. Teaching is discovery-based and in small groups.
The educational games are designed to encourage the children to think creatively, to solve problems and to question.
As these are fun, the children do not even realise that they are learning!
Key features of the Play Schemes
Free: 30-40 mothers enrolled on the Parenting Course run the Play Scheme in shifts through a week. There are six to ten mothers and up to 60 children at each Play Scheme. This arrangement allows around 200 children to attend for free each week.
Play-based and interactive: The Play Scheme is arranged into six play stations, which the children rotate around. Teaching uses participatory, child-led, turn-taking methods, rather than the rote-methods which are the norm in formal settings.
Cooperative: One mother and five to six children are allocated to each play station (compared to typical pupil-teacher ratios of over 1:50). The remaining children and mothers participate in outdoor games to strengthen physical development, social skills, and listening to instructions and cultivate an interest in local culture.
Local resources: The Play Scheme takes place in the school Kindergarten classroom (Ghana) and in the community (in Uganda). This avoids the need for construction costs. Each Play Scheme is given a starter pack of games (including counters, cardboard puzzles, dominoes, sorting games, wooden blocks/shape sorters), but mothers are trained make their own games.
Incorporation of health/hygiene: At the start of each Play Scheme session, children have to handwash with soap/ash to habituate them to this practice. Mothers are given on-going training on health issues.
The play stations
All Play Schemes are arranged into five indoor "play stations" and an outdoor station covering different skill-sets that develop children's intellectual, language and socio-emotional skills leading to improved school-readiness.
Each play station is run by one mother.
Children are divided into small groups (maximum six) and rotate around the play stations so they have the opportunity to participate in all types of activities.