SOUTH AFRICA – Ed-tech startup Play Sense has become among the first registered tech-focused pre-school franchises in South Africa, having recently achieved accreditation by the country’s Department of Social Development as a registered early childhood development (ECD) programme.

Cape Town-based Play Sense was founded by early childhood expert and author Meg Faure, Chief Executive Officer, who also founded the Baby Sense brand, and fellow occupational therapist and educator Lara Schoenfeld (COO), who also founded the Nanny ‘n Me franchise.

The start-up offers a digitally-enabled micro-playschool programme and enables teachers to set up their own playschools at home under the Play Sense banner.

The programme offers a play-centred curriculum for pre-schoolers, which encompasses sensory play, gross motor/outdoor play, art, music, stories, and imaginary play, to create rich experiences that encourage language, emotional and social skills for toddlers, according to the company.

After becoming one of the first programmes of its kind to be accredited in terms of the country’s Children’s Act, the company says it is looking to provide cost-effective ECD business opportunities for teachers and qualified caregivers who want to run innovative pre-schools from home.

“Our evidence-based curriculum follows the Vygotskian theory of development which says that guided imagination-based play is the best way to equip kids with the core capacities they need to thrive in a changing world, including self-regulation, executive function, creativity, collaboration and learning readiness,” said Faure.

“We’re excited about expanding the programme across South Africa this year and globally in the near future − this kind of schooling really is the way of the future”

Meg Faure – CEO, Play Sense

“Our accreditation by the government is an important validation of the quality of both our educational programme and the innovative business model that underpins it. We’re excited about expanding the programme across South Africa this year and globally in the near future − this kind of schooling really is the way of the future.”

The start-up, which successfully pivoted at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis in South Africa, says it offers both a blended and fully online curriculum that is aligned with UNICEF’s national curriculum framework, early learning developmental areas, national early learning development standards, and operational norms and standards for preschool education.

In-home teachers are required to invest in a Play Sense kit that contains everything they need to conduct the programme.

According to Play Sense, the franchise stable currently accommodates more than 30 groups in the Western Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and online.

The online model is designed for groups of up to six children between the ages of two to four to come together to play and learn in a safe home-based environment for three to five days of the week.

“All our teachers are trained in both online and in-home education so that they can adapt as situations change. We just don’t know what 2021 holds, so we have to be flexible,” said Faure.

“What makes Play Sense unique is that it is such a cost-effective and scalable model for highly progressive pre-school education – something that the market has been asking for and that will empower lots of women who are passionate about ECD to become entrepreneurs who make an impact in their communities,” concluded Faure.

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