Play Learn Win

A new paradigm in Early Childcare Education on the South African landscape.

Abbreviations:  CAPS    – Curriculum Assessment and Policy Statement

ECD     – Early Childhood Development

ELDAs – Early Learning and Development Areas

NCF     – National Curriculum Framework

NELDs – National Early Learning Standards

PLW     – Play, Learn, Win

EYFS   – Early Years Foundation Stage


Children develop quickly in the early years, and early years practitioners should aim to do all they can to help children have the best possible start in life.  As also spelt out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, children have a right to care which enables them to develop their personalities, talents and abilities irrespective of ethnicity, culture or religion, home language, family background, learning difficulties, disabilities or gender.

Development is not an automatic process. It depends on each unique child having opportunities to interact in positive relationships and enabling environments. The six ELDAs underpin all the guidance that is required. But first some background.


The South African NCF document, as published by the Department of Basic Education (2015) explains in detail what the NCF is all about. As a matter of interest – at PLW we present a short course where we elaborate on these principles and especially on the ELDAs, as espoused in inter alia that document, employing some practical examples. But more on that later.

The main thrust of the NCF approach is premised on a Vision for ECD that rests on three Themes:

  • Young children as people (children are competent people).
  • Young children’s learning and development (is important).
  • Young children’s connections with adults (need strong connections with adults).

The three Themes are in turn informed by 12 Principles which jointly underpin the three Themes:

  • Young children as people (I am a competent person).
    • I am a competent person who actively creates my own identity and my understanding of the world.
    • I am unique and have a unique life story.
    • I flourish when attention to detail is paid to equality of opportunities where I can participate in my potential.
    • I am sensitive to individual and group differences and must be educated in ways that help me to celebrate differences.
  • Young children’s learning and development (My learning and development are important).
    • I am curious, energetic and active and I learn by taking up opportunities to make meaning about the world around me.
    • Appropriate local and indigenous knowledge and skills are resources that can be used to promote socially, culturally and linguistically sensitive learning environments for me.
    • Play and hands-on (active) experience enhance my learning and development.
    • A comprehensive ECD learning programme for quality and equality of opportunities pays attention to my:
      • Developmental domains.
      • The content areas (languages and mathematics)
      • My strong links with my family and later, my links to schooling.
  • Young children’s connections with adults (I need strong connections with adults).
    • Parents and families in their different forms play a central role in my overall development.
    • I benefit from a close and loving relationship with an adult.
    • Adults have the responsibility for the protection and promotion of my rights regardless of my age, background, ethnicity, ability and gender.
    • We would like adults to promote children’s well-being, positive identities, inclusivity, child-focussed activities and competence for living and coping with life.

The NCF document then goes further to explain that the six ELDAs integrate the three Themes and twelve Principles. The ELDAs organise children’s development and learning opportunities to help adults to arrange activities with babies, toddlers and young children. They are:

  1. Well-being.
  2. Identify and belonging.
  3. Communication
  4. Exploring mathematics.
  5. Creativity.
  6. Knowledge and understanding the world.

Each of the ELDAs has certain desired results as expressed in the NELDs and are also expressed in terms of its relationship with CAPS. An example of how this integrates is listed below:


The ELDAs is key to understand how children’s learning and development should be organised. As intimated earlier, PLW has a specific remote course on the NCF and ELDAs to explain in much more detail how these areas interact and how they need to be further elaborated on.

But here we need to introduce a new concept – the EYFS. The early years foundation stage sets standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to 5 years old in specifically England but is being embraced more and more by different countries and practitioners, especially in the Middle East.

In England all schools and registered early years providers must follow the EYFS, including childminders, preschools, nurseries and school reception classes.

The EYFS shows great correlation with the NCF ELDAs, and their specific learning areas are:

  1. communication and language
  2. physical development
  3. personal, social and emotional development
  4. literacy
  5. mathematics
  6. understanding the world
  7. expressive arts and design

Like EYFS, the ELDAs is also an organisational framework for teaching.

It should be clear that if one has an understanding of the ELDAs (from a statutory point of view), AS WELL AS of the EYFS (from a best practice point of view), one should be able to ensure the best of both worlds for our children!

At the end of the day, however, both approaches emphasize that the child will mostly be taught through games and play. Hence why we at PLW have a HUGE problem with practitioners who promote screen time for children!

At PLW we also present the EYFS remotely (and one day again, in-house!). To ensure that we cover everything in the curriculum over 4 days, with 3 hours per day, we approach the course as follows:

  • Day 1: The 7 Learning Areas
    • Introduction to the 7 Learning Areas.
    • Practical Session. Group work to plan an activity holistically to address Prime Learning Areas and identifying the link in supporting the specific learning areas.
    • Learning Outcomes. Understand the Prime and Specific Learning Areas within the EYFS; Be able to plan holistic activities.
  • Day 2: Introduction to Policies and Procedures within an EYFS setting
    • The role of the practitioner in the implementation of these policies.
    • Policies and discussion of the terminology:
    • Policies relating to health and safety – Health and Safety at Work, Food Hygiene, Fire Safety, Reporting of Injuries and Communicable diseases.
    • Legislation and Policies relating to safeguarding – Protection of Children Act, Disclosure and Barring Act, Data Protection, Confidentiality Policy, Media and online policy.
    • Policies relating to equality and inclusive practise.
    • Partnership working – definition and what is your role?
    • Introduction to Development Matters.
    • Practical Session. What do you need to organise a fire drill in your setting? How will you plan this? Provide developmental outcomes for specific age groups using Developmental Matters.  Provide learners with specific age groups and ask them to provide outcomes.
    • Learning Outcomes. Understand the policies and procedures for health and safety; Understand legislation regarding safeguarding; Understand inclusivity and equality; Be able to use Development matters as a reference.
  • Day 3: Creating Enabling Environments
    • What does an enabling environment look like – characteristics of an enabling environment?
    • What are learning stations?
    • Definitions of child-initiated play and adult-led play.
    • Practical Session. Group work – Review toys for use in the different learning stations.
    • Learning Outcomes. Understand the play environment; Understand how to support children in child-initiated play; Be able to provide enabling play environments by choosing toys for learning stations.
  • Day 4: Understand the Observation and Assessment Cycle
    • Introduction to 2-year-old progress check.
    • Introduction to the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile.
    • Implementation of the characteristics of learning.
    • Introduction to the observation and assessment cycle.
    • Introduction to observation methods.
    • Learning Outcomes. Understand the observation and assessment cycle; Understand the different observations methods; Understand the types of assessments.
More importantly though – PLW now has the ability to align the ELDAs with EYFS and yes – to automate it! We do this through our Child Care Communication System – Parent App! What we have done was to write curricula for all age groups based on the ELDAs and factoring in EYFS best practice as relevant. Then upload it on the Parent App (provided by our Danish associate), and voila! You have real-time, online access to ELDA-based lesson plans every day, every month, every quarter of the year. And you can track your progress!
This is a world-leading standard.
Contact us for a discussion to see how we may assist you to make your life easier…


Meet the Team

The team has practical experience in training on the NCF, ELDAs and EYFS, as well as many other course interventions in South Africa and the Middle East. We are both located in Somerset West, but available for interventions across the country.

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