LEGO Foundation partners with UNICEF and others to scale playful parenting programs
The LEGO Foundation recently announced partnerships with UNICEF, ChildFund International, The Research Program on Children and Adversity (RPCA) at the Boston College School of Social Work, and Save the Children to scale parenting interventions that promote playful interactions in Bhutan, Guatemala, Rwanda, Serbia, and Zambia.
The announcement, which follows from a commitment made by the Foundation earlier this year pledging to bring to scale impactful programs that support parents and caregivers to strengthen children’s development through play, will be of interest to the Australian early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector for the resources it offers.
Sarah Bouchie, Head of Global Programmes at the LEGO Foundation said the Foundation aims to build a future in which learning through play empowers all children to become creative, engaged, lifelong learners” and that primary caregivers are “fundamental to this aim, as they are critical to their children’s development.”
Responsive caregiving, from educators and parents alike, “sets a critical trajectory for brain growth in young children, which lays a solid foundation for healthy development and lifelong learning” a Foundation spokesperson noted.
Evidence from a range of countries shows that when caregivers engage in quality play and reading with children, it can result in improved learning outcomes that persist throughout the life course. Play can also reduce stress and anxiety levels associated with adversity, with intervention studies showing that play is an effective way of addressing the needs of children who have experienced abuse, violence, poverty and other forms of adversity and trauma.
Dr. Pia Rebello Britto, UNICEF Chief of Early Childhood Development, noted the role of stimulating experiences and interactions, such as play and early learning, as being critical to healthy brain development in babies and young children.
Beyond children, primary caregivers also benefit from play. A cross cultural study of parents, for example, revealed that nine in ten parents said play was fundamental to their own happiness and made them feel relaxed, energized and more creative.
The Playful Parenting partnership will directly benefit 200,000 families over the next three years. The LEGO Foundation and their partners will work to ensure that playful parenting interventions and learning through play initiatives translate into significant and lasting benefits for the children, families and their communities.
For more information about the work of the LEGO Foundation, please see here.