The child development corner project, which was initiated last year, is almost complete. The corner is now a bright spot in our community center, Ma o Shishu Shiksha Kendra, with yellow colored walls, shelves filled with toys and books, and comfortable foam mats for the children to explore and play. Display boards have been put up to exhibit children’s artwork and important child development messages. Once the curriculum has been finalized for child development sessions—due to be completed this month—child development sessions within the child health community meetings will be initiated. In the meantime, during community meetings (which take place almost every afternoon) the space is being used for play by children whose mothers are attending the meetings.
In February, Calcutta Kids organized a training workshop on child development to achieve the following goals:
1.) To provide a foundation on child development for Calcutta Kids’ health workers who will be working with mothers and children during the child development sessions. The health workers will use the lessons to teach mothers how to stimulate their children through play.
2.) To solidify curriculum development for the child development sessions to be started in April. This will ensure that the messages and counseling given to Calcutta Kids’ beneficiaries are standardized and evidence-based.
Jane Thompson, a child development and education specialist, and Director of Next Step Early Intervention, conducted the two-day training, “Helping Children Grow” for our health workers. The training started with an overview of ‘secure and nurturing attachment’, and the importance of the emotional bond between the child and the mother (or primary caregiver) which is critical for a child’s growth and development. She also spoke about ‘active learning’, a process by which children develop and learn through interaction with their environment. She emphasized that the most optimum form of multi-sensory learning is achieved through play, which is the major goal of the Calcutta Kids’ child development corner project.
The rest of the training workshop was divided into age groups: 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-9 months, 9-12 months, 12-18 months, 18-24 months, 24-30 months, and 30-36 months. For each age range, Jane discussed key milestones in different areas of development including: cognitive, communicative, social/emotional, adaptive, and physical. She demonstrated activities that could be done during each age range, using materials that she had brought, along with materials that we had procured for the child development corner. A summary of the training and key topics can be viewed on the workshop presentation here.
We are very appreciative of Jane, for conducting such an informative workshop on child development. The lessons learned will be applied when we hold child development sessions with the beneficiaries (mothers and children) and when we use the space to entertain children while mothers are attending community meetings. —Danya Sarkar