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Strengthening parenting and the role of caregivers: a sustainable approach to young children’s success in early childhood

Mon, April 15, 3:15 to 4:45pm, Hyatt Regency, Pacific Concourse (Level -1), Pacific N

Group Submission Type: Formal Panel Session

Proposal

Children’s development is significantly attributed to their experiences at home from birth through the early years of schooling. Particularly, the first five years in which children spend the majority of their time at home, represents a critical period for physical-motor, cognitive-language and social-emotional development, as 90 percent of brain development takes place before age 5. Children build a base for literacy, numeracy and social skills when parents and early childhood teachers synergistically stimulate children’s brain with play-based and developmentally appropriate early learning opportunities such as talking, singing, playing games, telling stories, reading aloud, and counting together. Positive parenting practices, especially when paired with a strong partnership between the home and school environment, have been shown to be among the strongest predictors of school performance in grade one and beyond. For example, in Turkey, a study on the long-term effects of implementing an early intervention among low-income mothers and their children found greatest gains from interventions that combined a parent-focused and school-based intervention. Coupling school-based and home-based interventions produced sustained effects in terms of school attainment, higher primary school grades and vocabulary scores, more favorable attitudes towards school, and better family and social adjustment than ones that did not involve parents.

There is mounting evidence that supports the compounding benefits of strong parental engagement and positive parenting practices from birth through the early years of schooling. As a result, low and middle income countries are working to develop and implement systems, policies, and programs, that support families and children. Therefore, it is critical to share experiences, lessons learned, and best practices on how to best engage parents and families in their child’s development.

This panel will discuss various approaches to sustainably engage parents in early learning opportunities. We will explore the importance of utilizing systemic entry points to access parents and linking family engagement with national policies. The first paper will discuss the process of developing a national parenting curriculum in Rwanda and its implications on the realization of the National Early Childhood Development Policy. The second panel will discuss findings from a study that tested two approaches to engaging pre-primary parents in play-based learning opportunities in Kenya, and the implication of these findings on program scale-up. The final paper will explore the application of the Nurturing Care Framework, with specific regard to responsive caregiving practices, with parents of children transitioning into formal school in Kenya, Malawi, and Zambia.

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