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Apr 24, 2017

Investing in Child Care Development

The Ministry of Health is hosting a two-week “Care for Child Development National Trainers Workshop” in Belize City. The focus of the seminar is to enable personnel from the Ministries of Education, Health and Human Development to help parents and others to connect with young children three years and younger before they start school. News Five’s Andrea Polanco was at the start of today’s workshop and shares why it is important that we invest in child care development from an early age.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Participants from across three Ministries are being trained to improve care and development of young children. For the next two weeks, two groups of front line personnel who interact directly with parents are learning how to better equip young children for learning before they start school.

 

Natalia Largaespada Beer

Dr. Natalia Largaespada Beer, Technical Advisor, Maternal Child Health, MOH

“The evidence is there now that we need to start early. Ninety percent of the brain is developed before three years of age and that is the time that is ideal for us to help the family to help the child to prepare for a better learning experience in later life.  One of the greatest pillars is the early childhood development; which is a set of techniques and tools that we will be using training parents on how to play and communicate better with children and to respond to their needs.”

 

Activities for the children vary according to age with emphasis on play and communication.  Often times this process starts before the baby is born, where parents are encouraged to start communicating with the child.

 

Jane Lucas

Dr. Jane Lucas, Lead Facilitator of Training Process

“We already know via our evidence that if you talk to a child very early, they will develop words or start speaking words more early by the time they are age three than a child who doesn’t have that kind of experience. So, that is an experience. How do you talk to a child or a baby? Do you talk to a child in full words or do you make the same noises as the baby? We often encourage them to make the same noise as the baby is making; respond to the baby. So, we have an activity called copy your child.   We do things like peek-a-boo when the child gets older and there a number of things that the child is learning in terms of response in giving and take; in conversation. Peek-a-boo is a conversation and the other thing that it does is that the parents learn to pay close attention to the child.”

 

The care for child development strategy is applicable in any setting, particularly outside the classroom.

 

Dr. Natalia Largaespada Beer

“It is applicable at a health center while the nurse or the doctors are providing care; it is applicable through the roving care givers program at the community level and it is applicable by the parents themselves once they receive the training and the counseling from the different providers from the three line ministries.”

 

Those activities help children learn faster and control better their emotions – things that will prepare them for school. The benefits of care for child development are many and go all the way into adulthood.

 

Dr. Jane Lucas

“We now have studies that show children who get these activities before age two earn more; are more productive as adults – twenty five percent more in terms of adult earnings if you have had these activities. This is especially important for children who are at risk. The children who are born small – they can catch up or children who are disabled or have disabilities. So, the children who have these opportunities, the studies show, in fact, are less enticed into criminal activities. They are more productive in school, so they can take advantage of the opportunities in school better than if they don’t have these activities. We are also learning in a whole new field to study these children as they grow old to see the health benefits.  We find for example that there is less heart disease for the child as they grow older. It is amazing how do these things happen – below age two that will affect heart disease? The connections are now being made.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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