@Sandton Kids launches Grade R and exciting tutoring services for a learning fiesta

Hold onto your crayons, folks! @Sandton Kids is turning up the excitement dial as it officially welcomes mini-geniuses up to Grade R and launches personalised tutoring services for the pint-sized scholars cruising from Grade R to Grade 7. Get ready for a rollercoaster of reading, writing, spelling, and homework galore!

Located smack dab in the heart of Sandton on Benmore Road, @Sandton Kids, under the dynamic leadership of Headmistress Clarissa Louw, is not just a school – it’s a kiddie utopia. Louw beams, “Embarking on the adventure of learning should be nothing short of joyous! Our little learners are in for a treat at @Sandton Kids, where education intertwines seamlessly with play. From top-notch educational facilities fostering play-based learning to the boundless delights of our outdoor play area, every activity is tailor-made for their specific age group. Now, with great excitement, we’re broadening our horizons to include Grade R. This isn’t just a grade; it’s the cornerstone, the bedrock, laying the foundation for the 12 glorious years of education that follow. Welcome to the heart of learning excitement!”

The school’s ethos has its roots in the belief that children thrive in nurturing environments and some children are better suited to small class sizes and personalised attention. But that’s not all, busy parents! Conveniently situated within the @Sandton precinct, @Sandton-Kids is your childcare haven. Open from sunrise (okay, 06h30) to sunset (18h00) during the week, with flexible half-day and full-day options, it’s not just a school for the kiddos; it’s your parenting superhero.

Classrooms? Check. Play areas? Double-check. @Sandton Kids dives into active learning, armed with the “Play Learn Win” curriculum, a magic potion brewed from the NC Framework and ELDAs. Term-end reports? You got it – your child’s progress, delivered straight to your eager hands.

@Sandton-Kids is not just a school; it’s a playground for possibilities. Join us as we turn learning into the coolest adventure in town! @Sandton Kids, a safe and nurturing environment is located within the @Sandton precinct which is also home to @Sandton Apartments and @Sandton Hotel and caters for residents of the precinct as well as those who live and work in the surrounds.

The Importance of ECD Education

By Clarissa Louw, Headmistress of @Sandton-Kids Creche

The brain of a new-born is only 25% of its adult size, but rapidly grows in the first few years of life, forming over a million neural connections per second. This period of rapid brain development is crucial for a child’s future learning, behaviour, and health, and quality early education and nurturing can help maximize their potential. During the first five years in a child’s development, their experiences play a major role in shaping their development, so quality early education and nurturing can help maximize their potential.

Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres play a vital role in preparing children for school and promoting their physical, mental, and social development from birth to age 8, providing children with foundational skills necessary for later learning through play-based activities and experiences. Children who receive quality ECD education are more likely to have better academic and cognitive outcomes, better social-emotional development, and better self-regulation, problem-solving, and communication skills.

Why is ECD education so crucial in providing children with foundational skills they need for later learning through play-based activities and experiences? Children who receive quality ECD education are more likely to have better outcomes in academics, cognitive abilities, and social-emotional development, such as better self-regulation, problem-solving, and communication skills.

Quality early education can help fill achievement gaps and increase the likelihood of tertiary education later in life. Teachers and peer interactions in preschools are essential for a child’s emotional, social, and physical development, as these experiences shape the adult they will become.

These are some general signs that can help you determine whether an ECD centre is well run and meets all the relevant criteria:

  • Qualified and trained staff: Look for centres with teachers and staff who have the proper training, certification, and experience in early childhood education.
  • Safe and clean environment: Ensure that the centre has a safe, clean, and well-maintained environment that promotes children’s health and well-being.
  • Age-appropriate activities and materials: Check that the centre provides a variety of age-appropriate activities and materials that support children’s physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development.
  • Positive interactions and relationships: Observe how teachers and staff interact with children and whether they provide supportive and nurturing interactions.
  • Communication with families: A good ECD centre should have open communication with families, keeping them updated on their child’s development and progress.
  • Focus on play-based learning: Good ECD centres prioritize play-based learning, as play is a crucial component of children’s development and learning.
  • Flexibility and adaptation to individual needs: A good centre should be able to adapt to individual children’s needs and provide a flexible and inclusive environment.
  • Regular assessments and evaluations: The centre should regularly assess and evaluate children’s progress to ensure they are on track for their developmental milestones.

Attending a quality ECD centre can have numerous benefits for a child’s development, such as boosting their eagerness to learn, social skills, self-confidence, and attention span, as well as encouraging empathy, creativity, and teamwork.

So how do you choose the right Early Childhood Development (ECD) centre for your child? First you must determine your needs and priorities, take into consideration your child’s age, learning style, and any special needs they may have. The next step would be to research and compare centres. Look for centres that meet your needs and priorities and compare their offerings, location, cost, and hours of operation. Remember to check for accreditation from a recognized early childhood education organization, as this indicates they meet certain quality standards. Once you have a shortlist, visit the centre. Schedule a visit to observe the environment, the staff’s interaction with children, and the activities and materials available. Do not be afraid to ask questions during your visit about the centre’s curriculum, policies, and procedures to ensure they align with your expectations. Getting feedback from families with children who attend the centre is also a great way to establish if that particular ECD centre would be a good fit for your family. Most importantly, trust your instincts. Choose a centre that you feel comfortable with and that you believe will provide a positive experience for your child.

By following these steps, you can choose the right ECD centre for your child and ensure that they receive the best possible start in their educational journey.

In conclusion, attending a quality ECD centre can boost a child’s eagerness to learn, social skills, self-confidence, and attention span, as well as encourage empathy, creativity, and teamwork.

Prepare your child for their first day

We’ve given you some tips to calm your nerves in our previous blog, but how can you get your little one ready for their first day? Separation anxiety can be stressful for both of you so prepare your child as best as you can with our advice.

Familiarise them 

When you’ve chosen your school, bring your child with you for a tour and point out the classroom that they’ll be in, meet the preschool teacher, show them where they’ll put their bag as well as the amazing play areas they’ll soon be able to explore. When you’re back home, talk them through what they can expect during their day, what they’ll play with and when you’ll be picking them up afterwards. It might also help to read them a book about pre-school so that they can get even more comfortable with the idea – and perhaps even excited!

Express emotions

Encourage your child to express how they are feeling about beginning preschool – are they excited or perhaps a little unsure or nervous? All of these emotions are, as you know, incredibly normal so acknowledge how they are feeling and let them know that they can always share with you. 

Bring something from home

Whether it’s a picture of the family for older kids, or something such as a blanket or an item of clothing that smells like mom or dad, this is a great item to pack if your child needs an extra bit of comfort in their first days of pre-school. 

Stick around

On their first day, adjust your schedule so you can be with them for the first 15 minutes or so. Help them to meet new children, show them around and introduce them to their teacher – then, when it’s time to go, say goodbye (read about our recommended goodbye routine here) and let them know you’ll be back to pick them up at the end of the day.

Connect with the teachers

This will be a big adjustment for both you and your child, so it’s normal for there to be anxiety – however, if your child is struggling to say goodbye then contact their teacher for advice. They’ll be well-versed in the process, and with their experience – and their interactions with your little one – they’ll be able to help make the transition easier.

Get over your nerves!

So, you’ve weighed up all the options and have chosen a preschool that you love. But now you’re feeling anxious about the looming first day of preschool on the horizon! It’s very normal to be nervous about being away from your little one for the day – after all, you’ve been their sole support for many months by this stage. However, your child will pick up on your stress and anxiety, so it’s important to stay calm before sending them to preschool. Here are a few suggestions from the @Sandton Kids team on what you can do to steady your nerves before the big day.

Groundwork

You’ll have visited the pre-school before deciding that it’s the right fit, so get all the info you need on their security practices, what they do if there’s an accident or health emergency, and how you can stay in contact during the day. It helps to have all this information up-front rather than trying to find it out on the day. 

Checklist

While you’re checking in with the pre-school, ensure you know exactly what your child needs to bring with them every day. Create a checklist that you can run through and ensure that everything from dummies and bottles to jackets, hats and sunscreen is packed the night before. This will not only help you feel a little bit more in control of the situation, but it also means you’ll be calm and prepared for the big day.  

Social skills

In the run-up to their first day, help your child to socialise through playdates or group activities. It’s good to get them used to being in a group so they can start building the social skills they need, including collaborative play and sharing with others. This will not only help them make friends quickly in their new school, but it’ll also ease your mind as you see them get to grips with new settings. 

Say goodbye

Create a short but sweet goodbye routine for you and your little one so that they know what to expect and that you will return to collect them at the end of the day. Whether it’s a hug, high-five or a saying, ensure that you do this every day as you drop them off, with a teacher there to provide comfort if they cry. It might be tempting to sneak out so that leaving doesn’t become a ‘big thing’ but both you and your child will appreciate this stress-free routine. 

Keep it together

As we’ve said, children will pick up when you’re stressed, anxious or sad – try to relax and smile with confidence while dropping them off and waving them goodbye. Understand that this is a natural part of parenthood that will not always be easy, but will be for the best. 

Don’t imagine the worst

After you’ve dropped off your child at preschool, don’t assume that they’ll have a terrible time and struggle to adjust. While it might be strange at first, your child will adapt quickly and be kept occupied by qualified teachers who are very used to looking after little ones. Focus on the amazing things that your child will experience, the positive ways in which they’ll grow and develop, and the interesting stuff they’ll learn about. Remember that your anxiety might just become their anxiety when they think about leaving you, so be positive. 

No matter what developmental level your child is on, if they’re in the right school with the right teachers, they won’t get left behind – they will learn at their own rate and thrive. Pre-school is an important space for them to be in as they pick up their social skills, develop motor skills and, most importantly, have a day that is filled with stimulation. 

Choosing a Pre-School

When it’s time for your little one to go to pre-school, how do you decide which school is going to be the best for you and your child? There’s plenty that goes into making that decision, and as it’s a space that your child is going to be spending a lot of time in, you want to make sure that it’s a good fit. Here are some of the things to keep in mind.

The basics

First things first, look at your budget and work out how much you can afford to spend per month. Consider your work needs and how many hours your child should spend at their preschool – will a half or full day work better? Location is also a big factor – how will your child get to and from preschool and would it be preferable to be closer to home or to your office? Another consideration to include is whether you’ll have time to prepare breakfast, lunch and snacks for your child every morning, or if a creche that includes these would be preferable. Lastly, ask for referrals from paediatricians, friends and family for preschools that they recommend and the type of education environment that they think would benefit your child. 

Pay them a visit

Once you’ve put together a short list of preschools that meet your basic criteria, it’s time to visit them and get a feel for each school. Is it clean and hygienic or messy and chaotic? Are the teachers warm and welcoming? As you walk around, take note of the size of the classrooms and play areas – what are the facilities like and are there enough toys and educational items to play with?

Engagement

Look at how the teachers are interacting with their students. Are they positive and engaging? Do they ask questions and genuinely listen to kids’ answers, or are they dismissive? How do they resolve conflicts – is there any form of punishment or discipline, or are children guided through the conflict resolution process? Is the environment quite strict or is active free play and stimulating activities encouraged?

Curriculum

Enquire about the teachers’ qualifications. Do they have basic training in courses such as first aid? What curriculum does the school offer and is it accredited in any way? It’s imperative to know how your children will be spending their day – will teachers be taking an active role in their education or will children be left to their own devices in front of a TV? We suggest looking for a pre-school that offers rich content, hands-on learning and play that is appropriate for your child’s development. 

Extras

Lastly, find out exactly what is included in the fees. Will the monthly costs and registration fee cover items such as stationery and extra-mural activities? Are there any add-ons such as swimming or language lessons, or an outdoor play area that will benefit your little one and make their world a richer one? It’s also worth clarifying how you will be able to communicate with the pre-school – how will you to be kept up to date with their day-to-day activities and progress in the long-run, and will you be notified about their diaper changes, meals and nap times?

While there are many factors in choosing the right pre-school and creche for your child, it’s an important decision that has long-lasting ramifications not just on your child’s development, but also your peace of mind as a parent.

Why we Play Learn Win @Sandton Kids

When you visit your children @Sandton Kids, it might look as though they’re just having fun – but through play we encourage them to learn and develop, and prepare them for formal schooling.

The @Sandton Kids team offers an early learning development curriculum called Play Learn Win, which is based on the NC Framework and ELDAS (Early Learning Developmental Areas). 

What is Play Learn Win?

Play Learn Win was developed in 2015 as a play-based curriculum for the young learners of South Africa, based on best practice models from around the world. Because it’s based on developmentally appropriate fun activities, it’s incredibly popular – with kids, parents and teachers! The curriculum is well-researched and a favourite of many top pre-schools. It doesn’t contain worksheets, simply encourages children to explore and discover through a structured programme that still allows children the freedom to learn through play. 

Why is play important?

For us, it’s important to remember that children learn through play – play is their daily job in the first few years of their lives, and they’re good at it! This developmental stage gets them ready for the next stage of life, putting in place the building blocks for the future. So before they learn to read, write and count, they must be developmentally prepared through play – and without this firm foundation, they’ll struggle to learn key skills later. 

What do the activities look like?

Play develops a child holistically, focusing on these three fundamentals:

Physical Development 

  • Movement develops a child’s concentration span
  • Movement develops the actual pathways in the brain, creating new connections
  • Movement develops the core muscles that enable them to sit upright at a table through balance, coordination, muscle tone and strength
  • Well-developed fine motor skills enable a child to write and these skills are built through activities like painting with different sized brushes, drawing with large and small wax crayons, building puzzles, moulding playdough, cutting and pasting, drawing with pencil crayons, tearing, playing with pegboards, lacing and threading, and drawing with jumbo or small chalk. 

By the time the child starts school, their fingers will be strong enough to hold a pencil and their bodies will be able to cope with the physical task of sitting for an extended period. 

Cognitive Development

  • Play improves memory and stimulates brain growth. 
  • Free play and regular breaks ensure a better and longer attention span.
  • When children play, they must often solve problems, and this stimulates their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. 
  • Imaginary games or symbolic play teaches them to regulate their emotions and develop their reasoning skills.
  • Mathematical skills are developed during play in many ways, like building a concept of numbers through playing with blocks.
  • Both receptive and expressive language are developed and stimulated continuously while playing. Their auditory skills and ability to decipher sounds are developed, which lays the foundation for reading when the time is right. 

Social Development

Through play, social skills such as the below are practiced:

  • Following Rules
  • Learning to Share
  • Consideration for Others
  • Fairness and to make sure that everybody gets a turn
  • Conflict Resolution

As you can see, play is incredibly important for your little one – after all, they only have 5 years to play before heading into the school system, so we encourage you to let them play, learn and win @Sandton Kids!

Meet Clarissa Louw: Manager of @Sandton Kids

ages of 4 months and 5 years that also offers child minder services for guests of @Sandton Hotel. We chatted to manager Clarissa Louw about joining the @Sandton Kids team, why she got involved in education, and why @Sandton Kids stands out from the crowd.

Continue reading