Teaching families the language of love with wordless books

Teaching families the language of love with wordless books

What does a child need to grow? Although food, shelter, and bundles of love are at the top of the list, Kaathima Ebrahim believes communication is equally as important.

Kids learn love without words
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 Having conversations with kids, whether about trees or tying shoelaces, is vital for their development. It helps build a strong relationship with a child, while bolstering their cognitive abilities. By giving caregivers books that spark a dialogue, Ebrahim is opening a chapter of possibilities for youth. 

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Learning begins at home. Yet with many households in South Africa falling below the breadline, parents are often ill-equipped to provide their children with the resources to flourish. With wordless picture books, Ebrahim and her team at the Mikhulu Child Development Trust are making early education more accessible. “We believe that all parents, regardless of their education level, can support their children to develop well,” she says. Through book-sharing, families can sit together and create their own stories based on the illustrations, with the child taking charge of the narrative. While the activity is a fun way to bond, participating in a two-way interaction also strengthens the speech and language area of a child’s brain.

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To ensure families are still connecting and learning during the COVID-19 lockdown, Ebrahim digitised the books. “We have made some of these books accessible online and provide ideas about how parents might engage children in a conversation about them,” she says. Through this imaginative method, Ebrahim is not only bridging gaps in the education system, but bringing families closer together. “Our hope is that these books will create a more intimate relationship between the parent and child,” she says. When we teach lessons with love, we can make a real difference.

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