Author: Makame, V.
Several international agencies have recently introduced new policies aimed at improving children's development. Most experience of interventions has been with nursery school approaches for the 3 to 6 year old child, and there is relatively little experience with running programmes for the under threes. However, it has been demonstrated in the Caribbean and Latin America that home visiting interventions for the under threes can have sustained benefit on children's development.
Purpose / Objective
The purpose is to conduct a rapid assessment of child rearing practices likely to affect a child's emotional, psychosocial and psychomotor development, in order to facilitate the design of culturally appropriate early child development programmes.
The specific objectives were:
- to identify and document local games, play materials, songs and stories that are used with children under three years
- to determine parents' knowledge of child development
- to determine parents' attitude and practices concerning play with young children
- to assess parents' discipline process
The main activities included:
- Literature review on existing papers and studies on early stimulation and child play in Tanzania
- Interviews with resource people such as people working at universities, teacher-training colleges, child welfare services and nurseries
- Interviews with 26 mothers aged between 18 and 35 with children aged one to three years through two focus group discussions and questionnaires
Key Findings and Conclusions
The majority of the mothers do not understand the concept of child development; they cannot tell exactly when they expect a child to first achieve certain language, cognitive and motor milestones. As the concept was not clear, they could not suggest anything to do in order to make the child develop and were not aware of what children need in order to develop.
The study shows that mothers do not exactly understand the different stages that a child passes through. To them, they just see them 'grow' from an infant to a toddler to a child. There was not a single mother who mentioned any stage of cognitive development such as 'understand and differentiate faces of different people at home.' Only one mother mentioned language development; she clearly explained the stages from single words such as ma-ma, da-da to telegraphic sentences and then to full statements.
According to mothers, women in households are the ones who play the most important role in bringing up a child. This is mainly because of the 'women's role in households.' Men, as husbands, were expected to go out and bring basic needs to the family. Thus, they do not have time to care for the children.
All mothers want their children to achieve the best in life such as to perform well in school, have good jobs, as well as to become famous people and role models. However, they could not link their present child rearing practices and the desired future.
To them, child's interactions with peers and people at home modify language, cognitive and motor development through an automatic process as the child grows.
In order to make a child behave well, s/he should be taught good manners by parents, sisters, brothers and other adults at home. It is not necessary to punish a child physically. However, it is important to discipline a child when s/he does something wrong. There are different types of punishment; not giving a child some gifts or taking her out, and sometimes the use of light, physical punishment, if necessary. Many mothers mentioned three years as the average age when a child can start to be punished.
At this age, both girls and boys are treated the same. However, at the age of 2 years, there are some differences in play and toys between girls and boys. The frequency and duration of play between girls and boys are the same.
Mothers have explained the purposes of play differently; some feel it is useful as it improves a child's development in terms of cognitive, social, emotional, language, physical and motor development. Others do not see any meaning for children to play; it is just childish and a waste of time.
- To carry out an observation at household level, which was not possible to carry out during this rapid assessment
- To search more literature in Tanzanian context
- To establish a community-based project that will facilitate child development in full -- socially, mentally, and physically through play and toys, with the inclusion of disabled children
- To develop a mini and simple child development guide/manual that will describe clearly the child development requirements and milestones that can easily be used and interpreted by community facilitators, parents and guardians in rural communities
- To facilitate parents and other community facilitators to produce home-made toys, and facilitate community play groups for under fives
- To assess the issue of gender balance in relation to childcare and rearing practices among family members
- To examine the existing policies and guidelines in Tanzania that address the whole issue of Early Childhood Development and its applicability, especially in poor rural communities
- To examine how the changes and diversities in socio-cultural issues and poverty affect child-rearing practices
- To research and analyze the critical factors that could affect child growth and development
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ECD - Family & Community Practices