Category: Creative Learners | Early literacy and numeracy development | 21 December, 2014 - 18:00← BACK
The Family Literacy Project endeavours to develop adult literacy in order to enable the proper development of early literacy skills in young children and enhance the literate environment within the home.
We partner with Tembaletu, and the Aids Foundation of South Africa in the Community Works Programme in running an early-childhood development project in KwaZulu-Natal, called Khulisa Abantwana Home Visiting Programme. The programme is mainly run by and targeted at women and focuses on development and play for 0-4 year old children (see our previous learning brief on this programme). Our partners are contracted to employ, monitor, and support the Community Works Programme participants.
We have trained over 175 women to visit families in their villages and share information about child development with parents/guardians, and to play with and read to children between 0-5 years of age. These so-called, “Home Visitors” are all functionally literate women who learn about children’s rights, the importance of play, creating safe environments for children to learn in, providing a nutritious diet, etc., all with a focus on supporting young children to learn and build early literacy skills. The women each visit six homes in their own village.
This learning brief highlights three areas of improvement that has helped us better implement the Khulisa Abantwana Home Visiting Programme.
1. IMPROVE THE CHANNELS OF COMMUNICATION
In the past year we have learnt that if you want to have an effective programme it is essential to have clear lines of commination open to all the participants and partners. Our experience has taught us to improve communication by adopting the following these strategies:
All parties need to agree on the preferred modes of communication right at the start of the programme. Agree on the use of phones, emails, post, and/or word-of-mouth. Agree on the systems of communication such as who, how, and when information will be delivered. Agree on paths of communication between people: top-down, bottom-up, horizontal. For example an area/site manager may only receive emails once a week and so it would be unreasonable to expect him to answer certain questions before he’s received the information.
Set reporting time frames and have all the partners agree on the schedule. In this reporting timeframe include time for replying to queries, giving feedback, and final editing. Regularly remind the necessary people of these schedules.
Hold scheduled, face-to-face meetings with top management. These meetings help management to know what’s happening at the operational level, and help the operational team understand management’s expectations. Don’t forget to budget for these meetings: travel and accommodation costs.
Maintain good communication between the area managers and the trainers as they work in parallel on problems ranging from the mundane to the more complex.
Factor into the budget the costs for communication. This includes costing for mobile calls and text messages between coordinators, trainers,
Design a simple communication flow diagram for your organisation that hep everyone understands how information travels and where it ends.
2. VALUE THE COORDINATORS
Do not underestimate the important role that coordinators play in making sure the programme operates smoothly. Their task is to provide oversight and bring together different project components into a well-coordinated operation.
Our coordinators provide a strong support base for the Khulisa Abantwana Home Visiting Programme by actively:
The coordinators also monitor the programme, complete registers, accompany the participants on home visits, and help the home visitors reflect afterwards on their practice and experience. Finally, they are a channel of three-way communication between the Home Visitors, participants, and management. As such they are valuable assets to our organisations daily operations and subsequently we have been rewarding them accordingly.
3. PERSISTENCE IS NEEDED TO WIN OVER RESISTANT HOUSEHOLDS
Our home visitors commonly face a resistant household were the caregiver/guardian is not interested in our programme or too busy to participate in the sessions. Initially we believed that this was something we could not easily change and that these were lost cases. However, our recent experience is that given time and persistent exposure to the positive examples of our programme, these resistant households eventually come to see the benefits of participating. This happens when certain essential elements are present.
We found that household members respond positively to the home visits when the Home Visitor carefully creates a theme and plan for each visit that engages the child and the caregiver; and when she arrives at the household with suitable toys, a relevant message for the household, and activities that require the caregiver’s participation. In addition, when the caregiver/guardian sees the child’s joy and enthusiasm, and begins to understand and enjoy the fact that he/she can play a role in the learning and development of the children the response is positive. Finally, when the Home Visitor feels confident in her work and is regularly encouraged and supported by the coordinator we find that household members become less resistant to participate in the sessions.
Although our Khulisa Abantwana Home Visiting Programme has been operational for quite some time, our experience has taught us some lessons on how to improve the programme delivery. Specifically we have learnt then need for improved channels of communication, and the need to value our coordinators more. Additionally, we have realised that patience, good role modelling, and persistence is needed to win over resistant households to our programme’s purpose.
55 Botha Road, Botha's Hill, KwaZulu-Natal South Africa
(031) 765 1875
In this the brief the Family Learning Project shares three ways in which it has improved its Home Visit programme: 1) clearer channels of communication, 2) valuing the programme coordinators, and 3) the need for patience, good role modelling, and persistence to win over resistant households.