The intervention focuses on unlocking the potential of caregivers, both mothers and teachers, training and empowering them with the knowledge, skills and confidence to run educational Play Schemes in kindergarten classes and provide better care and stimulation at home, using local materials. The intervention will be carried out by Lively Minds, an award winning organisation that has been running the programme in rural Ghana (as well as Uganda) for 8 years. The structure of the program is as follows:
1. Kindergarten teachers trained at centralised workshops
a. There are ten practical and participatory sessions, which cover the importance of education and play, classroom management, how to use and make games, and how to train Mothers.
2. Teachers train 30 Mothers in their community.
a. Training includes two community meetings and nine participatory workshops. It is designed for women who are illiterate and have never been to school. Content includes how to make and play games, child-friendly teaching, and health practices. The syllabus uses behaviour-change and play-based approaches to transform mindsets, gain buy-in and volunteerism. Teachers are supervised and supported by high performing Kindergarten Teachers from schools with existing Schemes.
3. Play Schemes run
a. A different group of 7 Mothers come into kindergarten each day of the week for an hour. 6 Mothers teach 30 kindergarten children indoors (1:5 parent child ratio). The remaining children and Mothers participate in outdoor play. The teachers supervise. Children learn by playing with a variety of games that strengthen six different skill sets (counting/numeracy; matching/sorting; imagination and creativity; reading/books; sensory awareness; and physical education). These crosscutting skills develop executive functions, providing the foundation for learning. Teaching uses discovery and play based methods, rather than rote method which is the norm in school.
4. Health and hygiene activities are incorporated
a. Children have to handwash with soap before using the Scheme, sensitising them to this vital practice. Mothers are also taught how to erect simple handwashing devices (tippy-taps) at home. Once the Schemes are running, Mothers and teachers are given regular training on health and parenting topics to improve their childcare.
5. Teachers and Schemes are supported
a. Play Schemes are given regular supervisory visits by Lively Minds staff and Ghana Education Service officials to quality control. Regular “top-up'' training sessions are held for teachers where they discuss problems, share successes and also are trained to provide the Mothers with monthly skills workshops.
6. Mothers are supported
a. Mothers are given monthly workshops on parenting and health topics and life skills by Teachers (topics include nutrition, hygiene, child rights, play, communication, malaria prevention, financial awareness, self-esteem, inclusive education). This increases awareness on a variety of childcare and public health issues, reinforces new behaviours, and is a powerful incentive to keep the Mothers committed to volunteering.
7. Sustainability and scalability
a. District Education officials are involved in the mobilisation and training of schools. They monitor the Schemes and supervise the teachers and schools as part of their normal supervisory duties. High performing teachers and officials are trained to participate in the training and support of new cadres of teachers. Play Scheme Committees are established in each community.