Lana Barnett, the brains behind Mysmartkid

Mysmartkid, launched in early May is a new play-based educational programme that has been designed to assist in child development between the ages of 0 – 6 years to ensure that they are big-school ready.

All children love to play and as a parent you want to give your child the very best of everything, especially making sure that their cognitive functions are stimulated at every stage of their childhood development. 

But often a question many first-time parents struggle with is what they should be teaching their child during their crucial developmental years.

Combine these two factors of play and development, and this, says Lana Barnett, was the idea behind Mysmartkid and the Afrikaans version Myslimkind.

Barnett, a trained librarian, former CEO of Leisure Books and grandmother to two grandsons, is the brain and CEO behind Mysmartkid, a play-based educational programme that focuses on the all-round development of children through the use of age-appropriate toys, tools and activities from birth to 6 years of age.

The aim is to prepare children with the necessary skills and brain development functionality to form a solid foundation that will prepare them for their formal educational years.

"We worked closely with an all-female panel of experts in educational psychology, speech and language therapy and a counselling psychologist with a particular interest in play therapy to design an age-appropriate smartbox of play items like puzzles, puppets and paint", she explains.

"We wanted to be able to give parents, teachers and caregivers the guidance and expert advice in a way that was strategic with regards to the areas their children should be developing in and at what age," Barnett says.

After looking at the early childhood development curriculum with expert input, they decided on six development areas: wellbeing, identity, concepts, creativity, communication and My World.

Included in the smartbox is an information guide for parents about the educational toys, reason for inclusion in the box and how the toys stimulate early childhood development, whether it be for muscle movement and tone, hand/eye coordination or to help get a grip of concepts.

Their interactive website includes an abundance of knowledge around important developmental milestones for children at various ages between birth and 6 years.

Included is an online store where you can shop by various categories and developmental areas.

And it also contains blogs written by the experts giving parents more information about the various developmental stages.

Mysmartkid
is available online through a bi-monthly subscription that costs R295. Currently in its fourth month of operation, the programme has already attracted over 5 000 subscriptions and Barnett aims to have 21 000 subscribers by the end of March next year.

The next phase of the programme will focus on recruiting agents who will be rewarded for signing on new members. Barnett is also keen to find a way to incorporate indigenous languages into the offering and will bring in an expert in remedial education to join the team.

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