Our Khula Nathi programme was launched in 2018, in partnership with the Engelhorn family.
Studies show that a significant number of young learners entering Grade 1 in South Africa are under-prepared for formal learning due to inadequate early learning experiences. Consequences include high failure and dropout rates. Effective school-readiness programmes can be used to bolster early learning and in turn mitigate the negative consequences.
Khula Nathi “grow with us” is a Zip Zap Circus programme that uses early childhood development principles to provide children with alternative and quality early learning experiences through the circus arts and related activities. The programme is run in collaboration with 6 ECD centres (3 from Imizamo Yethu and 3 from Hangberg, both informal settlements in Hout Bay).
The selected ECD centres have committed to a 2-year programme with the same group of 30 children per centre, in the age-groups 4-5 years in the first year and progressing to 5-6 years in the second.
Children are bussed in on sponsored transport to and from the Zip Zap Dome venue in the Foreshore, Cape Town.
Zip Zap instructors have forged strong relationships with the staff at the various pre-primary schools and creches. The children are always excited to attend a session with us, looking forward to an exciting bus ride, the visit to the Zip Zap Dome, the opportunity to gain new basic skills and the occasion to socialise and meet new little friends!
The schools are hosted in 3 cycles per year, with 2 ECD centres participating in each cycle. Each centre attends 4 workshops on alternating weeks for the duration of each 8-week cycle. In keeping with prevailing COVID-19 regulations, 30 children from each centre attend workshops as intact groups.
We are always impressed by the activities they remember, which are proudly demonstrated to us. While they do not present shows, the sessions are open for viewing by teachers and child minders. We believe there is a real need to intensify and expand this programme.
The desired outcomes and benefits expected:
- Language usage & communication skills: improved ability to understand content and communicate effectively.
- Cognitive skills & general knowledge: improved memory, inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility as learners follow directions and keep instructions in mind while completing learning tasks.
- Physical well-being and motor development: improved overall physical health and development of fine and gross motor skills.
- Fun and relaxation: circus arts are a source of great joy for the children. Children grow in confidence.
- Emotional well-being and social competence: improvement in relating to peers and educators.
“The children use the skills they learn at the Zip Zap workshops when they play on the school jungle gym.” – Teacher
“For the past 29 years we have seen stars in the eyes of all children entering Zip Zap. That ‘spark’ is what we work for, to ensure it continues shining until they become independent, caring, responsible adults. It is worth cultivating because only once each child knows their worth will (s)he be on the path to growth. We have seen many times that participation in our programmes overcomes low self-esteem, anger, frustration, despair, and rejection. More than 15,000 young people have gone through that process with us over 29 years.”
– Zip Zap Co-founders