ECD lives to care another day

The children enjoy playing in the sandpit

In 1993 Shareen Isaacs had a baby, but she also gave birth to a nursery school that this year celebrates its 25th anniversary.

As a new mom, Ms Isaacs found there was a shortage of daycares in Belgravia, so instead of returning to work, she studied Early Childhood Development (ECD) and opened the Belgravia Day Care Centre in 7th Avenue. She had 10 little ones for her first intake.

Later, she asked Belgravia High School if she could run her school from their premises. Belgravia High agreed and the new facility opened there in April 2000.

Today, 50 children attend the nursery school, and it has three teachers.

Ms Isaacs said she had always had a passion for working with children.

“It’s really amazing to watch them grow. We also have special-needs children and it is great to see how they grow and the impact that the school has on them. They are now able to do things that they couldn’t do before. We had a boy who couldn’t speak for a year and can now speak.”

She said the children’s characters had changed over the years as they had become more curious and confident, expressing their opinions with ease.

“Sometimes I am taken aback by the things that they say. They can also use social media quite efficiently.”

Outdoor play and other activities, she said, were crucial for a child’s development, but many weren’t getting that stimulation because their parents let them spend too much time in front of a TV or cellphone screen.

“Parents get home and allow their children to spend so much time in front of the TV. They need to play and read and do activities to stimulate their brain, and that is why we don’t have a TV at the creche,” she said.

She encouraged parents to learn more about early childhood development and attend workshops to stay informed about how a child developed.

The school went through some tough times at one stage because of frequent burglaries.

“Thankfully we raised the money and we were able to secure our premises.

“They would break in every second day,” Ms Isaacs said.

She thanked all those who had supported the school over the years.

“They have motivated me and kept me going and really helped this school. My advice to parents is to become more involved with their children’s education and spend more time with their children so that we receive a better product at the end of the day.”

Fowzia Safoedien has worked as a cleaner and cook at the school for 20 years. She said she was very proud of how far it had come.

“We have built the school up and worked very hard to make it successful. Every year we get more children, and more people support us. It is hard work but we keep this place looking good.”

Love, trust, honesty, and a passion for children were at the school’s core, she said.

“This is a place where children can learn things, and they are big achievers once they go to school. Here we all have an open relationship with each other. We are in this together because we are a family. They are like my own kids,” said Ms Safoedien.