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Combining coaching for parents in early childhood development with services that meet families’ basic needs.

In 2016, research published in The Lancet affirmed that parents’ ‘nurturing care’ is among the most decisive factors for healthy child development. By responding to a child’s verbal and nonverbal cues, parents and caregivers help children develop social and emotional skills and trusting relationships. By talking, singing and playing with their young children, they stimulate brain development and lay the foundations for lifelong learning. By providing a stable, caring adult presence, they help their children overcome the effects of growing up amid poverty or violence.

Research also shows the impact of parents’ own well-being on how they support babies and toddlers. For example, maternal depression – which affects 13% of new mothers worldwide, and 20% in low-income countries – can negatively impact the relationship between mother and child, with lasting repercussions on the child’s development. Parents who live in poverty not only have a more difficult time providing food and clothing for their families, they also have less time, energy and cognitive space to care for their children in the way they would like.

Our work on Parents+ (ParentsPlus) combines at least one service designed to meet families’ basic needs with parent coaching in early child development. The services could be for adults (reproductive health, savings groups, literacy, mental health, job training) or children (health, nutrition, childcare, preschool). Coaching activities cover a range of parenting topics such as family budgeting, breastfeeding, talking and playing, perspective taking, and calming upset children. We believe that the bundling of coaching activities with these other services is a cost-effective way to achieve impact at scale.

Early Childhood Matters 2017

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This latest edition of the Bernard van Leer Foundation’s journal showcases advances in early childhood development, bringing new ideas from around the world and exploring the challenges of scaling up. Read more

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