Cotlands' early learning programme is structured around a routine and is rooted in a play-based learning pedagogy, says the organisation.

The programme boasts 24 weekly lesson plans repeated twice yearly, offering a comprehensive curriculum aligned to the National Curriculum Framework and fostering holistic child development. Additionally, the children attending the playgroups receive nutritious breakfasts and meals or snacks, the organisation says.

In conjunction with this, Cotlands operates its core programme of toy libraries and has a hub set up in each province, delivering a toy lending service to under-resourced Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres and families in the community.

This initiative not only increases access to quality early learning through educational toys and resources but also conducts come-and-play sessions and ECD quality improvement training for ECD practitioners in these underprivileged communities, the organisation adds.

Cotlands says that it is honoured to have secured sponsorship from VT Markets, a generous overseas sponsor who has contributed Christmas toys for children across all playgroups. The gifts — ranging from stacking rings for the birth-to-two age group to puzzles spanning 12 to 48 pieces for older children — bring joy and play opportunities to homes where such resources may be scarce.

The graduation parties hosted by Cotlands for children attending their early learning playgroups mark a special milestone. One of these events was on Wednesday, 6 December at the Meadowlands early learning playgroup.

These celebrations will acknowledge the children's achievements, recognising their developmental milestones and readiness for formal school. A representative from VT Markets will be in attendance to join in the festivities, according to the organisation.

Dandelyn Koh, global brand manager at VT Markets, says, "We are thrilled to partner with Cotlands, a trusted non-profit organisation that has been serving vulnerable children in South Africa for over 87 years. We understand the importance of early childhood development in preparing a child for formal school, and we are committed to helping Cotlands fulfil its mission to increase access to play-based early learning opportunities for children."

VT Markets says that it will contribute 1 240 educational toys, providing children with resources to play and learn during the holiday season.

Irene Chetty, Cotlands's national business development manager, says, "We are thankful to VT Markets for supporting us in fulfilling our mission. This act of kindness helps us advocate for parents to spend more time playing with their children at home."

Chetty concludes, "We want to encourage the establishment of more toy libraries in conjunction with public book libraries. This will motivate parents to visit the library and engage in play sessions with their children, allowing them to borrow toys that contribute to holistic child development."

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