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Reading with small children
Nal'ibali

We know from recent research that the first five years are the most significant for brain development. And the experiences children have in their first three years are the most critical as these early experiences provide the base for the brain’s organisational development and functioning throughout life. So, whatever it is that caregivers do with them, this is the time that young children establish their foundations for language and life. Stories provide a wonderful way to develop children’s language, curiosity and thinking. Here are some ideas from the Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign to help young children on their literacy journey:

Choosing books for children

For more tips on choosing books for children of all ages, go to www.nalibali.org.

Nal’ibali’s Storyplay Programme

Do you remember your favourite childhood story? Can you remember who told or read it to you and what it felt like? Do you remember playing when you were a child? How it felt to act out ‘house-house’, ‘robbers and tsotsi’s’ or making dolls?

Nal’ibali is working with adults and educators to make the most of stories and play for children’s language learning and early steps to reading and writing using a special approach called Storyplay.

Storyplay helps young children grow as confident, imaginative and curious learners.  It is based on theories, research and experience about how babies and young children learn to think, play, problem solve and use language successfully in their listening, talking, reading and writing. It uses pretend play to bring adults and children together around books and toys in animated ways and provide a rich and meaningful story-making experience.

Using this technique,stories come alive as children act and explore each story ‘world’. They might become one of the characters, or be able to advise or solve problems on behalf of one or more of the story characters. They become independent explorers, investigators, scientists, artists, builders, readers, writers, storytellers and actors. And, in this way, caregivers and educators are able to observe skills and interests in children that may have otherwise remained hidden.

Launched in January 2015, Storyplay has been piloted at 13 schools and crèches that form part of the Ackermans Ububele Schools programme in the Western Cape and is now being introduced at Nal’ibali reading clubs. Information on how to use Storyplay at home, at school or in a reading club will be available from the Nal’ibali website in 2016.



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