Several International Days have been marked recently: The International Literacy Day (September 8th), World Teacher’s Day (October 5th), Day of the Girl (October 11th) and International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (October 17th). All of them quite significant to Children in Crossfire Tanzania’s Early Childhood Development (ECD) initiatives aiming to give every child a chance to thrive and ultimately creating flourishing communities.
Did you know that:
Young children raised in families where parents provide rich language and literacy support do better in school than those who do not?
Exposure to less common, more sophisticated vocabulary (rare words) at home relates directly to children’s vocabulary acquisition leading and to better performance in pre-primary, primary school through tertiary levels of education?
A famous children’s book author, Dr Theodor Seuss Geisel once wrote “the more that you read the more that you will know and the more that you learn the more places you will go”. Over the years studies have, in a way, confirmed Dr. Seuss’ notion. Now parents and caregivers are urged to talk to babies in order to generate and expand their vocabulary, laying a solid foundation for these futures as readers.
A vast body of ECD evidence released recently internationally show that language development is a process that should be initiated while the child is still in the womb. Parents, especially mothers are encouraged to speak to their unborn babies, because a sense of hearing is developed before birth. Please follow this link to read more about the Lanced Early Childhood Development Series.
You may be familiar with a ‘Talk to Your Baby’ or Zungumza na Mtoto Mchanga (ZUMM) study conducted in Tanzania in 2013-2015 by David and the late Janet Townend (may she rest in peace). A few days ago David made a presentation to Children in Crossfire Tanzania staff, bringing up to speed some of us who joined the organisation recently. It was fascinating to listen to results of a one-of-a-kind research conducted in places you are familiar with. I left with these key messages: The more words-per-hour spoken to a child, the more s/he benefits! And yes, start talking to them as early as when they are still in the womb. Tell everyone!
Combining evidence from Lancet ECD Series and ZUMM, one sees clearly why we need to invest in Tanzanian children at a critical window during their growth, when their brains are initially formed and when they are developing the at the fastest rate (0-5 years old). Among the notable immediate results you may see within the five years of your daughter or son’s life will be increased curiosity and understanding of immediate environment, better use of language in communication and general readiness to advance to the next stages of learning. At this point we hope children will enter schools that are also ready for them in terms of quality of teachers, materials and infrastructure. Click this link to read more about Fursa kwa Watoto programme for pre-primary classes.
According to ZUMM study “in Tanzania parents use fewer words to their babies. The 63 word per hour (wph) spoken to babies is dramatically lower than the lowest wph figures found in the international research in more developed countries: 600-800 wph in poor families and up to 2,000 wph in more affluent homes”.
As you can see, these important days reminded us of the important individuals who can contribute to our quest for poverty alleviation in communities–parents, caregivers and teachers–and their unique role in early stimulation. Likewise we were reminded of the link between language development and future prosperity of nations.
We urge you to share this blog widely so that more people can learn about the unlimited possibility we can give Tanzanian children if we start talking to them–the right way–early in life. Act now!