OPINION: Are children 2-6 years losing out on meaningful classroom education during the lockdown?

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Since small children cannot go to school, is their development going to be affected?

The lockdown has restructured the way children everywhere are learning. It has also forced parents to be actively involved in the education of their children. 

The early childhood development (ECD) phase is particularly a very important stage in a child’s education. It sets the foundation for the child’s schooling career. In 2019, about 63% of children were not in any ECD centres. However, in 2019, the department of education proposed that grades R-3 should not repeat their kids even if they underperformed. 

According to basic education minister Angie Motshekga, “a number of education experts have opinions on this matter, and the overwhelming message is that it does not make any educational sense to make young children aged six to ten years, to repeat a grade”.

“According to the experts, the children who repeat, on the whole, gain absolutely nothing.”

This then begs the question regarding how affected these age groups are when they are losing months’ worth of lessons.

According to a primary school principal, Kassandra Strydom, a time like this is forcing parents to reevaluate how their kids have been learning. According to Kassandra: “It is the intense conversations with classmates and teachers that make the most difference in a young child’s life, especially in this age group.”

Kassandra does acknowledge that parents with kids in these grades are concerned, not only of the educational lessons the child losing, but also the social benefits they are not receiving while at home. 

So, are parents talking to their children and actively playing and learning with them? 

Many parents take their children to ECD centres so that the child can socialise with other children and be taken care of while they work. I know I do.

But maybe I have also relinquished the responsibility of teaching my daughter to the school. 

We are all learning as we go, and we shall figure it out. 

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