Early Childhood Education Level Mentorship – Beginning of Holistic Human Capital Development Journey

Early childhood education mentorship is aimed at the practitioners. They are charged with the responsibility of taking care of the children at the centers like kindergarten.

It has become a necessity that even those parents that are not necessarily busy must see a need to send their children to an early childhood development centers like kindergarten.

Children are our future. They take care of our legacy, carry our culture, including languages, into the future. The teaching of the African languages, in the case of South Africa, must happen at the early childhood centers level. There are many linguists and retired professionals who could teach children pure African languages. By the way, this includes the tradition of delivering knowledge through story telling, plus fairy tales being told by the elders.

We must fight all the evil deeds like drug trafficking that are targeting the children. This kind of mentorship supports the initiatives of the practitioners against such ills in the society. All children, irrespective of their parents’ status are entitled to high quality early childhood care and education, plus professional mentorship.

The Early Childhood Level Education Mentorship Programme is the beginning of the Holistic Human Capital Development Journey. It is a foundation of a life long learning. If established well from the beginning these children becomes valuable members of the society. This is the level at which the society must throw all its resources and efforts to get the education of the society right.

Nobody argues with the fact that education at this level should without any doubt be free, including feeding scheme. We get it wrong here, the whole country will suffer the consequence in the future. The long-term implications are dire. Mentors must be made available by the state to support all those early childhood centers that are public and non-profit making. These mentors must be qualified and be credentialed by reputable professional mentorship associations.

Perhaps at this point we need to explain what mentorship is and what it is not. “The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves,” Steven Spielberg (Director, Producer, and Screenwriter). The term mentoring has its roots in Greek mythology. In Homer’s Odyssey, the hero Odysseus entrusts his friend Mentor to look after his son, Telemachus, while he is away at war and prepare him to be king. The word mentor came to mean teacher, educator or role model. So, a mentor is a trusted person who offers his or her own knowledge to support, guide and encourage another, known as the mentee.

We must clearly distinguish between training, mentoring and coaching. Training can be either internal or external, in which a trainer assumes the role of a teacher. He or she imparts special and needs-based competency and knowledge components. Training normally takes place in groups. It offers professional and behaviour-based development, i.e. it imparts specific learning content. Mentoring is mainly internal, and mentor functions as a role model. He or she offers specific and tangible assistance in practical situations. This is often offered on a one-on-one basis. Coaching is mainly external, and the coach assumes the role of a tutor. It develops general individual competence and problem-solving skills. The sessions are mainly delivered on a one-on-one basis, although team and group coaching are now offered as well. However, it is not every coach that is able to facilitate team or group coaching. The coach’s methodological knowledge supports the development process. Coaching is highly recommended for personal and professional development.

In the future articles we will look into the Basics of Mentoring like Methods and tools for Mentoring: (1) Competence Profiles – progress measurement in the mentoring process, assignment of mentor and mentee; (2) Mentor Guidelines – guidance for the mentor throughout the entire mentoring process; (3) Mentoring Agreement – confidentiality and commitment must be ensured in a mentoring programme; (4) Rules of the Game – agreement on personal interaction (e.g. behavioural norms or assessment standards); (5) Checklist – ensure safe environment for mentee, continuous processing and operational support.

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