KNYSNA NEWS - The Learning Tree (TLT) Early Childhood Development Centre embodies the saying that it takes a village to raise a child.
This special initiative received favour from the Knysna community from conception, whereby a property in the Khayalethu forest was donated to the Knysna Educational Trust (Ket) by Cape Island Construction, in order to start a model preschool.
The Knysna Rotary club, together with an International Rotary Grant led by Lesley Barmania of the Rotary Club of Mississauga Meadowvale, helped raise the much-needed funds to refurbish and extend the facilities to make adequate provision for a sustainable preschool.
This facility also serves as a practical training centre for student teachers completing the Early Childhood Development (ECD) Fet learnership at Ket.
As TLT started to establish itself in the local community, more and more individuals, businesses and parents took part in supporting and funding the centre. It started very small and has grown into a well-resourced and fully functional ECD facility, boasting a variety of inventive play areas, a forest track and garden, climbing walls, a mud kitchen, jungle gyms, balancing beams and a bike track.
At TLT the focus is on children learning in a safe and fun environment through play, with their daily nutritional needs also being met to ensure good physical development. Ket provides TLT with quality age-appropriate educational learning programmes, and ongoing capacity building and training to the ECD qualified teachers.
During the lockdown, online teaching for Grade R pupils and parent support were also provided to ensure that the Grade R's education continued and that they didn't fall behind.
Due to strict protocols that are followed at the preschool at all times, no child has tested positive for Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.
The children regularly use the local library and have access to the Dutch Reformed church's grounds opposite the school. Some parents go the extra mile and assist the preschool in additional practical ways, even though it's a fee-paying preschool, by helping with maintenance and building play structures.
TLT offers the Ket Numba and Fonix programmes at the preschool, which offer an easy way of teaching foundation phase maths and pre-literacy acquisition in a fun and interactive programme. The theme-based curriculum also includes life skills and special days are celebrated, for instance Africa Day and Family Day.
TLT is a self-sustainable entity, registered with and subsidised by the Department of Social Development, which means that a nominal school fee is payable relative to the quality of schooling provided to the children. Parents take responsibility and accountability, in ensuring their child's future through these monthly school fees.
All extra donations received are allocated amongst all the children to ensure that fees are reasonable and accessible for parents.
TLT is a wonderful initiative for a company's social investment. The greatest gift we can give a child is the gift of learning, and each and every child deserves a decent chance in life, regardless of background or circumstances.
If you would like to get involved with TLT by volunteering your time, resources, goods or funds, kindly contact the principal, Julie Hoffmann, on 081 270 8788.
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