Development through Play

Cotlands has established a homework center at three primary schools in Hlabisa, a remote rural area in KwaZulu-Natal. It became apparent, however, that children in our program have serious developmental delays and we decided to provide interventions before they entered formal schooling.


In the Hlabisa area, there are about 25 early childhood development (ECD) centers, which are overcrowded and under-resourced. Equally, staff lack training and understanding of what young children need to develop. In response we decided to develop a toy library project to help address the issue of developmental delays.


Toy libraries are cost-effective models of providing much-needed resources, training and knowledge to ECD practitioners on child development. They also offer children access to educational toys that will enhance their development.


During the year we established our first toy library, using a classroom made available to us by a local primary school. Our aim is to equip this toy library with a range of toys and equipment that will create learning opportunities for children. Toys are being carefully selected to develop a variety of gross and fine motor skills, as well as language, mathematics and cognitive skills. Social and creative skills will also be enhanced.


We envisage that groups of ECD practitioners will visit the toy library and take part in training workshops, facilitated by the toy librarian, where the focus is on a specific toy and the different ways it could be used to stimulate children’s development. ECD practitioners will also be taught how to make their own toys from recycled waste and will be invited to bring groups of children to play under supervision in the toy library.