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Mar 1, 2018

Child Stimulation Month says it’s okay to play

There are more pre-schools and pre-schoolers in Belize than ever before, and the demand for early socialization, especially in a society vulnerable to impression from outside, is consequently greater. But the Ministry of Education believes that children’s greatest role models are their parents, and they hold the key to how the rest of the child’s life will be spent in outlook. So while A and B’s are great, it’s what you learn, and not just inside the classroom, that counts. News Five’s Aaron Humes spent this Thursday morning following the annual Child Stimulation Month parade in Belize City and observing the future in action.


Aaron Humes, Reporting

The nation’s youngest members were out in force this morning, as they have been for decades. It was more than a day out for the preschoolers who marched from Memorial to Constitution Park to open Child Stimulation Month, held under the theme “Birth to Eight: Children Must Play.” They dressed up as animals, as adult job-holders and generally colorfully, befitting their bright outlook on life. Most had adult teachers and parents in tow. Keynote speaker Education Minister Patrick Faber says that children ought to be children, though not at the cost of their studies.


Patrick Faber

Patrick Faber, Minister of Education

“Children are very malleable, and they can learn a whole lot at this early stage. So we shouldn’t interpret that as we won’t try to push our children and get them to learn, because they are at a stage where, as we say, they are like sponges, and they can take in much more than we can take in as adults. So while we encourage play as an important part of development, we also encourage a lot of hard work at this very early stage. We set aside the month of March to highlight this should be happening; but really the ideal thing is for stimulating children to be happening all year long, and by that we mean engaging. In my presentation this morning I took off my serious role and made silly [faces]; I sang and danced for the children, and that’s what ought to be happening in our pre-schools, our infant schools, and even in the homes.”


Quality time is especially important, says early childhood education official Nadera Ross, in the time between birth and three years of age, when socialization in the form of kindergarten and pre-school begins. It is not especially rocket science as one key component is as simple and fundamental as reading.


Nadera Ross, Manager, Early Childhood Education Unit

Nadera Ross

“When we get them in education we get them at the age of three to five years old. But that window [or] period from birth to three, which we refer to as the first one thousand days of a child’s life, is very crucial and important, and that sets the foundation for us to welcome them in education. But, all of what we do transitioning from that birth-to-three into the three-to-five happens through play, happens through stimulation. So the theme “Birth to Eight: Children Must Play,” is very, very important for us to keep in the back of our minds and know that everything will happen through play, but meaningful and structured play. 2:50 Read to your child every day – read, read, read. Reading is very important. Through reading there are a lot of facets we can fill. Parents, when reading to your child, you might be portraying some character and in portraying you’re using another sense of you. So we push the importance of early stimulation, getting your child ready for school. And in all of that your child will be meeting milestones; your child will be doing what he or she should be able to do.”


And from the looks of the kids in costumes in the early March heat, Belize’s next generation is well on its way. Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

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