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Parents advised on early learning

A children's charity has called on parents to invest in their children's development over material possessions.

Marking Universal Children's Day today, the BSMART Foundation said early childhood development is crucial for building a foundation for future learning, happiness and health.

Calvina Simons, a newborn care specialist, said: “I wish those early years were a more talked about and appreciated time in a child's life, where those having, caring and providing for children were actively seeking what is best for that child.

“I don't think early childhood education is seen as vital, just from some of the conversations you hear and where emphasis is placed in terms of resources in our community.

“The importance is placed more so on material items like the price of childcare, activities to do with children, not necessarily something enriching and what's developmentally appropriate for each child.”

Allison Figureido, director of the BSMART Foundation, added: “All kids, no matter what their background, need the right stimuli and tools to encourage growth and the right development — be it emotionally, physically and mentally.”

Mrs Figureido said she was surprised by the number of small children with their own iPads, warning that even educational games on such devices may not help healthy development.

“Babies and toddlers need real life interaction and activities to help them develop proper depth perception,” she said.

Ms Simons said there is often pressure for parents to try to “figure things out”, despite the presence of numerous experts on the island who can help.

“As a society, we are way too reactive versus preventive when it comes to our children,” Ms Simons said.

Mrs Figureido added: “If we don't address developmental delays on the front end, then they end up becoming issues years later.

“You see it in young people who are seven or eight years old and don't know how to read.

“In many cases those young people show early signs of learning and attention issues and if we can address it sooner they have an opportunity to catch up.”

Universal Children's Day was established by the United Nations in 1954 to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide and improving children's welfare.

For more information on tools and resources available for early childhood development, visit www.bsmartfoundation.org or e-mail ncs.bda@gmail.com.

Allison Figureido, director of the BSMART Foundation, and Calvina Simons, a newborn care specialist (Photograph supplied)

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Published November 20, 2017 at 10:36 am (Updated November 20, 2017 at 10:36 am)

Parents advised on early learning

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