From Pietermaritzburg to Washington DC

Thank you, N3 Toll Concession, for including this article in your Mobility magazine: (http://n3tcjournals.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/n3tc-mobility-summer-edition-2018-compressed.pdf)

“In November, Singakwenza, KwaZulu-Natal’s award-winning Early Childhood Development (ECD) Organisation, had the honour of sending its director, Julie Hay, to Washington DC where she attended and presented at the world’s largest ECD Conference.
With more than 9 000 international delegates, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Annual Conference is the world’s signature ECD event. This year the annual NAEYC Conference was held in Washington DC and Julie Hay was there to share Singakwenza’s journey with the esteemed international audience.
“I have wanted to attend the conference for a number of years, but knew that I would need to get sponsorship to go. In January I applied to be a speaker for one of the sessions, and was advised in July that I had been selected. I was so grateful to Emirates Airline Foundation for agreeing to sponsor my flights to this opportunity of a lifetime,” says Julie Hay, still beaming with excitement from her recent trip.
At the conference, Hay gave a presentation on “Maximising Resources” and challenged the delegates to come up with what they thought was the greatest resource they had in their classroom.
“I asked them what they couldn’t do without and what was the first resource they would save if the classroom was on fire. A number of items were named, and then I invited them to consider whether perhaps THEY were actually the greatest resource in their classroom. Without an invested, skilled and caring educator in the classroom, resources become redundant, irrespective of how much they cost. However, with the right teacher, all resources, including those made from recycling, become tools of exploring, developing and learning.”
Hay then shared the Singakwenza-experience with the practitioners.
“I explained to them how we work with almost no resources, but how, through our early childhood development and training programme, educators obtain the skills to provide the children in their care with numerous purposeful play activities every day. The delegates were amazed to see how many resources they could make from household packaging that is usually thrown away,” says Hay.
Delegates had the opportunity to make a ball using plastic bread bags and a netlon vegetable bag, and tried out a number of activities with it. “Their feedback was tremendously positive, including a newfound appreciation of the fact that an investment in oneself as an educator is a better investment than the expensive toys that were available at the Expo.”
Hay was able to attend a number of sessions on the days she wasn’t presenting, and says she enjoyed the exposure to a variety of acclaimed speakers who gave her many new ideas that will further enrich Singakwenza’s programme.
“I had wanted to find out how a second language was introduced in a classroom environment that was predominantly single language-based. A person’s brain is at its most receptive to learning languages in the early years and a child can learn up to four languages before the age of 4! However, in South Africa, most of our children are not exposed to the language they will write their Matric in until they are in Primary School. This makes studying in the second language so much harder for them.
My primary focus at the conference was to find what methods various preschools had used and which were most recommended to introduce a young child to a second language. We will be asking some of our crèches to try one of these methods next year.
It was an incredibly beneficial experience and I am truly grateful for this opportunity,” ends Hay.”