English | Dzongkha Monday, September 16, 2019

Prescription to Play, engaging parents in playful learning with children


Sep 11, 2019

Ignoring the curiosities of your growing child from an age as tender as three years old is arguably what most Bhutanese parents do. But going by the expert views, this is not a good parenting practice because it inhibits your child’s development. So, in an attempt to help Bhutanese parents become better caregivers, the health ministry and Save the Children country office are initiating a three-year project, Prescription to Play.

It is a programme that empowers parents to engage in playful learning with their children.

In Prescription to Play (P2P), you will be trained to help your children reach their full potential by engaging with them in playful learning. Prescription to Play is a scaled-up version of health ministry’s Care for Child Development Plus or C4CD Plus which was successfully piloted in Paro and Punakha last year with the caregivers of children below the age of three. Now, it is rolling out nationwide.

“In the Bhutanese context, we had never engaged in playing with children. Parents would be away for work and children are kept in the house with caregivers where they would do their routine jobs only such as feeding which takes care of only nutrition. But play and coordination and development of the brain are limited. Within their first 1000 days, we have to really play with children and give time to children, play and interact with children,” Chakchu Tshering, the Programme Analyst of Health Ministry’s Communicable Disease Division, said.

In P2P, you spend more time with your children. You play with them and you answer all of their curiosities without having to invest in expensive learning materials.

Experts say as the brain is developing, children learn too quickly in their early life. It is during this period that parents should invest time in their child’s development.

“P2P is going to be able to provide young children with experiences where they can explore objects and bonding with their parents and engage with their parents in a responsive and playful way where they can develop vocabulary, where they can repeat activities over and over again. Young children develop from these experiences.  When they have opportunities to play and to repeat things their brain connections become stronger. When they have loving, supportive and encouraging caregivers that is how their brains form very strong connections  It’s very critical during their first three or even eight years of life,” Sara Dang, the ECCD Advisor of Asia Area, said.

LEGO Foundation, a renowned philanthropist and toy manufacturer based in Denmark, is supporting the Prescription to Play project worth Nu 63 M.

Through the project, health assistants in the districts will train parents on how to engage in playful interactions with their children. It is expected to benefit close to 60,000 children below the age of three. And once the project phases out, the health ministry is planning on integrating it in the general health service.

Phub Gyem

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