Local Spotlight: Early Childhood Care and Development Centre
The patter of tiny feet followed by the hurried steps of Centre staff is a recurrent sound at Tarayana Foundation’s Early Childhood Care and Development Centre (ECCD). Here, children from age one to five spend most of their days under the watchful eye of Tarayana employees; employees attempting to ease children through the difficult yet exciting years of rapid growth and physical, emotional, and mental development. Providing proper nutrition and a safe environment to grow and learn, the ECCD is a staple in most rural Bhutan communities.
Prior to the Centre’s opening, many children predominantly in rural areas did not receive basic levels of care. Left alone while parents and caregivers were needed in the fields, the children were malnourished, underdeveloped, and unable to enter school on time.
Tarayana staff were dumbfounded to discover this first hand, witnessing a five year old tied to a windowsill while parents worked in the fields and attended to chores. ECCD was established shortly after this incident. Since its inception, Tarayana has expanded to a total of 25 centers in six districts. Benefitting more than 400 children and their respective families, ECCD not only offers free childcare but also workshops for caregivers to learn how to properly nourish their children’s development. Tarayana notes that, the ECCD also provides “…gainful employment and personal growth for young women in rural communities.”
The Early Childhood Care and Development program approaches development holistically, concentrating on the four main pillars.
The physical development of a child from one to five is the most observable change. Because this development is so visible, its assumed to be the easiest to monitor. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Regardless of income, geographic location, or ethnicity, families are unable to provide proper nutrition and exercise to their children. ECCD concentrates on teaching children and parents healthy eating and exercise habits early on so they won’t have to face health-related complications later in life.
Social and Emotional Development
Social development concentrates on the child’s ability to effectively communicate with others. Children are taught to read social cues and be aware of other’s emotions. The best way to teach social development? Play. And these kids are taught to play and play often.
Emotional development caters to each child’s wants and insecurities. Each child’s curiosity is encouraged and fostered in a safe environment.
Without the development of language skills, children are unable to communicate effectively. ECCD works to ensure that each child is hitting the appropriate benchmarks for them to enter school on time.
Cognitive Development equips the child with the ability to understand, recognize and solve problems by using critical thinking skills and cause and effect analysis. Games, workbooks and puzzles are utilized to shape each of these skills.
Although there is much to learn, the ECCD is on the forefront of ensuring that the next generation of Bhutanese grow up healthy, happy, and ready to face a quickly modernizing nation.
STORY BY SARAH CAHLAN
PHOTOGRAPHY BY TARAYANA FOUNDATION