The Mikhulu Trust has developed two programmes for caregivers: Supportive Book-Sharing, and Thula Sana. We also produce culturally appropriate, developmentally sensitive and affordable picture books for book-sharing.
We train and license organisations that work with parents or crèches to deliver our programmes. If you would like to receive training, please conduct us. To find out more about the research underpinning each programme, see our research page.
Supportive book-sharing is about having a stimulating and rich interaction between an adult and a child over a picture-book. It is not simply ‘reading’ to a child who listens passively. Rather, adults engage the child in an active exchange about the book, pitched to be sensitive to the child’s interest and cues, with a fluid interchange between them.
Sharing books in this way with a young child is the single most effective way for a parent or carer to support their child’s development. The practice propels children’s linguistic development, and has been termed a ‘language acquisition device’. By encouraging engagement and providing responsive interactions, book-sharing helps promote the child’s ability to sustain their attention, as well as advancing their concept development and social understanding.
Most important of all, sharing a book with a young child is an enriching and rewarding experience for both the child and the adult.
The Mikhulu Trust has developed four book-sharing training programmes for the carers of preschool children (see Resources for further details)
- The MT Programme for carers of 12 to 20 month old children;
- The MT Programme for carers of 20 to 30 month old children;
- The MT Programme for carers of 30 to 60 month old children;
- The MT Programme for group presentation (e.g. crèches).
The Thula Sana intervention is a home-visiting programme for pregnant and newly delivered mothers. It was developed by Professors Lynne Murray and Peter Cooper, using principles outlined in ‘The Social Baby’ by Lynne Murray (2000). The purpose of the intervention is to enhance maternal sensitivity and to promote secure infant attachment. Following a demonstration of the efficacy of this intervention, it was adopted by the WHO supported Parenting for Lifelong Health (PLH) initiative.
The Thula San intervention involves women being visited twice in late pregnancy and then on 14 occasions over the first six postnatal months. At these postnatal sessions, in the context of providing the mother with emotional support, the facilitator uses particular items from the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Schedule (Brazelton, T.B., & Nugent, J.K. (2011)) as a means of sensitizing a mother to her infant’s individual capacities and needs.
The Mikhulu Trust has produced a manual for deliverers of the Thula Sana intervention, together with Powerpoint and video training materials (see Resources).
Wordless Picture Books
There is a severe shortage of developmentally sensitive, affordable, and culturally appropriate children’s picture books in South Africa. Wordless picture books enable all parents, regardless of literacy level, to provide early childhood education and care through book-sharing. When books are shared which do not have words, compared to when they do, adults talk significantly more about feelings and intentions. This is precisely the kind of talk that has been shown to improve child social understanding and empathy.
We are committed to addressing this need. This year we produced our first book, “Little Helpers”, with an established South African, illustrator, Lyn Gilbert. The story is especially especially designed to encourage talk about the idea of community and the value of prosocial behaviour.
Further efforts are underway to produce more books of this quality.