There’s been radical change for A-Muoi and his wife, Nhung, in their home in Cu Tài village in A-Bung commune, central Vietnam. A parent-led playgroup for children's development is having a major impact on parenting habits, influencing everything from family roles and nutrition, to hygiene and communications.
I’m busy all day in the rice field, but now, when I have time, I make toys for my children.
“I’m busy all day in the rice field, but now, when I have time, I make toys for my children. I feel so relaxed and happy,” says A-Muoi, a 41-year-old father of 2.
When A-Muoi is at home making toys, his wife teaches Vietnamese songs to their children to improve their language skills.
Keeping it in the neighbourhood
Be and Ut, both 34 years old, live in the same village with their 16-month-old daughter Ngoc. After participating in a parent-led playgroup, they now know that a good diet is key to Ngoc's health and development.
“I spend almost 2 hours a day looking for food and cook 2 main meals for my daughter. We were having trouble buying good food like meat and fish, but it’s no longer a problem. I know where and how to get free food. There are plenty of field crabs, snails and small fish in the river. We just needed to know how to cook them properly,” says Be.
The model that forms the foundation of the parent-led playgroup is part of Plan International Vietnam’s Early Child Care and Development (ECCD) country programme, initiated in 2010 and first piloted with 7 parent groups in seven communes of Quang Tri, including A-Bung.
Time for fun
The playgroup in Cu Tài was set up by a group of mothers to give them a child-friendly space where they could take their children twice a month. Sessions start with singing traditional songs to teach the children new vocabulary. Then they play games to help spur development.
Facilitated by Buc, a preschool teacher and volunteer with Plan International, the group members learn all about education and healthy behaviour through 2-hour discussions, role play, team work and games.
“Parents like the group activities because it’s a good place for them to learn and a good place for children to play. They also see they can help their children become more confident and be ready to join preschool,” says Buc.
Cam, a young mother, adds, “I’m the youngest in the group. I learn a lot from the other sisters.”