Culturally Sustainable Play

At Learn to Play we value culturally sustainable play. We are guided by this principle and have developed our curriculum and Rainbow Play Framework with it in mind.

What is it?

Sustainable development aims to preserve cultures, beliefs and traditions. It makes a positive impact to communities that will be long lasting successful.

According to UNESCO, “No development can be sustainable without including culture. Culture is both an enabler and a driver of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.”

Culturally sustainable play considers the importance of the environment, conservation issues and fosters respect for the materials nature provides. It also values traditions, customs and the lived experiences of the children within the community in need.

Why is it important?

Indigenous knowledge is valuable. The key to designing and implementing programmes that make an impact is to understand the problem that is being addressed. Whilst we can learn from research and best practice, a ‘one size fits all’ model is rarely effective in addressing specific social concerns.

The power for success lies within the community itself.

At Learn to Play, we believe that culturally sustainable play is an important factor for childhood wellbeing. Children thrive through familiarity. They gain confidence in play when they are presented with recognisable items and themes that make sense to them. New and exciting toys, resources and concepts also have an important place. They challenge children, stretch their imagination and make them aware of the outside world. In designing our programme, we have given consideration to themes that are familiar and bring comfort and confidence as well as themes that inspire wonder and broaden horizons.

Culturally sustainable play is an important consideration for conservation. Our future is in the hands of the children we work with. Through the playgroups we encourage communities to see the value in the resources the natural environment provides. We learn from their history and survival and we aim to make the children proud of the community they live in.

Implementing Culturally Sustainable Play

Botswana is rich in culture and each community has their own traditions and practices. The landscape is vast and varied. From the lush, green seasonal wetlands to the semi-arid Kalahari Desert. From salt pans, to the mighty Okavango Delta. The natural resources used for play are different across communities.

We invite the Mamapreneurs from each community to educate us on the environments they live in and the resources typically used for play. We look to the seed pods, flowers, calabash and plants to inspire our play. Paints and stains can be made by crushing petals and herbs; seeds and nuts make great counting resources and loose parts and mud and sand provides nature’s best sensory play.

Easily sourced recyclables are sought out, collected by the community and put to use with the aid of imagination and creativity. During our training programme, the Mamas are encouraged to develop their own teaching aids and resources. Rather than providing pictures and instructions, we nurture their creativity and harness their existing skills.

We want the children in our playgroups to feel proud of their traditions and feel a connection to the community. Traditional Tswana games, songs and symbols are used throughout the curriculum. There is a focus on celebrating National Holidays, exploring cultural activities and learning about the natural environments the playgroups operate in.

If you want to find out more about Culturally Sustainable Play, or how you can make an impact in your community, please contact us.

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