We know that mother tongue is the first language we acquire in our early childhood through our caregivers (parents, grandparents, siblings, and others). While it may seem like a natural process, providing services that empower caregivers to stimulate their children’s language development from an early age can make a big difference for a lifetime. Today, on International Mother Language Day, we share how the hybrid delivery of these services emerges with enormous potential to promote language development from birth.
When in-person services were temporarily halted at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, programs used state-of-the-art technology, social media, and traditional communication channels such as radio and television to reach millions of children and families in Latin America and the Caribbean in fully virtual or hybrid formats.
Such services—both parenting programs that use home visits or group sessions and childcare centers and preschools—adapted their content to include play activities that parents with low levels of education could easily understand and developed new content aimed at language development and socioemotional support for children and caregivers.
How was this achieved on a large scale?
Here we share six implementation strategies of hybrid modalities in the region, on which you can learn more in our publication What Have We Learned from the Hybrid Delivery of ECD Services During the Pandemic?:
1- Virtual and Semi-Presential Care Protocol (PAVS) in Ecuador
Based on the care provided by Creciendo con Nuestros Hijos family care service and Reach Up Parenting Manual, a protocol was developed including a booklet with 180 cards with play and language or prenatal stimulation activities, a step-by-step guide on how to carry out care remotely, and messages promoting health, nutrition and protective environments.
2- Mis Manos Te Enseñan and Aprender En Casa in Colombia
The Ministry of Education and the Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF) promoted these two programs. Some of the key elements for the success of this remote learning strategy are the provision of pedagogical kits, on-demand socio-emotional services, a guide to operate offline, a semi-structured curriculum, and specific strategies to address cases of children with disabilities, pregnant women, indigenous communities and male caregivers.
3- Early Stimulation Program in Jamaica
Just before the pandemic, the Jamaican Ministry of Health and Wellness had begun the nationwide implementation of Reach Up family support intervention, with home visits by community health workers from government health centers. To restart the intervention in the context of the pandemic, they rolled out the Parent Manual, as well as text messaging support 1-2 times a week and phone calls twice a month.
4- Tu CAIPI en Casa and Mochila CUIDARTE in Panama
In order to develop a comprehensive offer for early childhood, the Ministry of Social Development (MIDES), in collaboration with the IDB and UNICEF, developed these two programs that adapt the Reach Up experience through innovative elements: A virtual library, activities, and materials delivered at CAIPI care centers twice a month, a backpack with an activity guide and materials delivered at home, and periodic phone follow-up.
5- Survive & Thrive in Brazil
In an effort to expand early childhood interventions in the municipality of Boa Vista, Brazil, Survive & Thrive adapts the Reach Up experience by offering comprehensive parenting support and early childhood stimulation from pregnancy to 36 months through a weekly text message and two phone or video calls per month.
6- Positive Parenting and Engaged Parenting at Home in Uruguay
The Child and Teenager Institute of Uruguay and Uruguay Crece Contigo promoted these two programs, focused on accompanying, empowering and promoting parenting practices that meet the needs of children, their integral development and the role of fathers and mothers in parenting within a framework of gender equity. Among the elements they developed, we can find the Positive Parenting Curriculum, WhatsApp messages 3 times a week, and the Engaged Parenting Curriculum at home.
All these efforts have given us enormous lessons about the potential of these modalities to promote language hand-in-hand with families with innovation throughout the region.
Today, February 21, we remember that learning a mother tongue is a millenary human process. At the IDB and the Early Childhood Development Innovation Fund we are committed to protect and stimulate it with innovation and opportunities for all.
Do you know of any initiative of hybrid modalities to promote language in early childhood? We invite you to leave us a comment below and continue the conversation through the hashtag #ECDHubLAC.