Reading aloud to children helps with language development, enriching their vocabulary while laying the foundation for reading and writing skills, as they are exposed to letters, sounds, and the concept of print in a fun, unintimidating environment. For children living in extreme poverty in urban environments like Mathare, there are very limited opportunities to enjoy story times in their families, and with no public libraries, none in their wider community.
Reading aloud and oral narrative both stimulate children's imagination and creativity while developing their critical thinking skills. When listening to an entertaining story, children learn to understand cause-and-effect relationships, engage or encounter problem-solving, while developing their ability to focus, concentrate and recall as they follow along with the story over a period of time. Hearing about characters' experiences in stories helps children understand different emotions, developing their empathy and emotional intelligence, while also developing cultural awareness and understanding across not only diverse cultures but also time periods.
Our Mawewa Preschool has started a regular circle time as part of their weekly schedule. During the circle time, their teachers and some eduKenya senior staff members take turns to read aloud or share an oral narrative with our youngest students from carefully selected enriching stories. These selections vary from the ancient Aesop's fables, to classics from Hans Christian Anderson, to traditional African oral narratives and beyond. These circle times have become a special bonding and interaction time which our learners and staff have learned to love.
Giving to eduKenya ensures that children growing up in environments with extreme poverty like Mathare, continue to have the opportunity to enjoy the simple yet powerful activity of hearing the written word and oral narrative shared with them on a regular basis. This summer, would you consider giving the gift of circle time to the children of Mathare?