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Toys help parents connect with their children in a new way

An eLearning-Through-Play program in India is creating new bonds between children and their parents

By Lipi Jobson, communications manager, India

The sun was starting to set as I arrived at a small, neatly kept home. Goats were returning from the field, and the chickens were about to settle into the shed for the night. In the front yard, I saw a couple taking turns rolling a ball towards their giggling 13-month-old daughter, Kavi.

The change since I last visited the home was remarkable. Then, Kavi’s father, Murugaiyapichai, rarely spent time with his daughter, and the couple had little understanding of the value of play in a child’s development. Now, play is a joyful part of their daily life, thanks to donors.

Kavi’s community is home to one of 48 parenting groups teaching families in India how to use play to promote learning and attachment through active parental involvement.

The program, called eLearning Through Play, is based on the innovative work of the Hincks-Dellcrest Centre, a children’s mental-health treatment centre in Toronto. It uses low-literacy tools, such as short videos, tablets, mobiles and a calendar, to share simple tips for development and engaging children through play.

“Playing with children is the greatest gift of being alive.” — Murugaiyapichai, father to 13-month-old

Part of what makes these parenting groups so special is they reach out to low-caste — or low-heredity class — communities led by locally trained villagers who encourage parents to learn from each other.

It’s amazing to see how the simple act of play is changing the relationship between parents and children.

“I used to be irritated when Kavi made noise meddling with the utensils,” confesses Kaliammal, Kavi’s mom. “But now, I like the noises. I realize it’s part of a learning activity that improves her brain development.”

Watching Kavi’s parents smile as their daughter swings wildly at the ball, I can’t help but be thankful for the donor support that has given 60 families the tools to give 125 children the best possible start in life.


Christian Children’s Fund of Canada:

Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC) is a child-centred international development organization and a member of ChildFund Alliance. For more than 55 years, CCFC has worked with children, communities, donors and other partners — changing lives through improved health, education and clean water. CCFC works in 12 countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas, to support more than 700,000 children, youth and community members.