An advocate of literacy and lover of reading herself, Metro FM’s news anchor and host of the entertainment report, Refiloe Mpakanyane, has partnered with the national Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign to bring the power of story to the Tikvah Day Care Centre in Watville. Visiting the centre on Tuesday 13 October, Mpakanyane together with Nal’ibali trainer, Portia Daniso, not only handed over a mini library of books, but also demonstrated Nal’ibali’s Storyplay technique for engaging young children with books and stories to the children and facilitators too.
Mpakanyane had been supporting the Ephes Mamkeli Secondary School with books for some time when she decided to extend her efforts and include to the nearby Tikvah Day Care Centre. “I believe it is essential to give very young children a well-rounded base in reading and language. This is, after all, the easiest time to instill in them a love of reading,” Mpakanyane explained.
And she is right. Research shows that being told stories and being read to are the two factors most likely to help make children successful learners at school. This is because stories, particularly when read or heard in home languages, help children develop their language skills and imagination as well as their problem-solving skills. Nal’ibali is working with and encouraging parents and caregivers across the country to use story power to spark the potential of all South Africa’s children including the very young.
“Many parents believe it is the role of the school to teach their children to read but babies and young children can benefit from listening to stories and being read to, right from birth,” explains Daniso. “They use stories and play to explore life and to learn. When we, as teachers and parents appreciate this, share stories and write and play regularly with children, we stimulate and support powerful parts of their language and literacy learning as well as other essential aspects of early childhood development.”
This type of engagement provides a solid base for later learning at school and Nal’ibali has developed Storyplay as a way to provide the very young with an opportunity to develop a love of stories and storytelling in a fun and informal way.
“Themba Tikvah Day Care Centre is a non-profit organisation which caters for the community and the generous donation of books and will go a long way to helping to improve the children’s language and reading skills – we are very grateful!” expressed Constance Yose, Principal of the centre.
Both Daniso and Mpakanyane would like to encourage parents and caregivers to share stories regularly with their children both at home and in educational settings: “It's not easy to make the time every day, but reading to your child is one of the most important building blocks for their growth - intellectually and linguistically,” commented Mpakanyane
Echoed Daniso: “Reading aloud and storytelling can take some practice, but parents shouldn’t feel afraid. Anyone can tell a story, any time, anywhere, and taking time to share a story with children sends a clear message that they are important to you and that you value them. These moments will become their some of their most cherished memories.”