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Speaking during the event, Dr. Opiyo emphasized on the need for active involvement of parents in the play and learning development of their children.

“Parent involvement in the child’s development creates a positive experience for children and helps them perform better later when they enrol in school. It is therefore crucial for parents to support the learning that happens in preschool settings at home as well as child care facilities. This also establishes a connection between what the child learns at school and what takes place at home. This connection is a key component of a child’s development,” said Dr. Opiyo.

MMUST3        Material development at Central iHELP centre

She encouraged the parents to use the readily available household items, recycled objects and other natural materials to develop the playing and learning materials.  Parents must also show interest in participating in their children’s creative play, learning and development.

The Chief Executive Officer, TajiZuri Foundation Ms. Martina A. Adega together with the Founder, Reenie Tender Beginnings Day-care Ms. Irene Otieno took the parents through the step-by-step development of various materials. The play and learning tools include picture reading, puzzles, stacking blocks from cut plastic bottles and papier-mâché. The items were developed using waste papers, used plastic bottles, bottle tops, cello-tape, scissors, manilla papers, glue, food colours, water colour paints and brushes.

Ms. Adega commended the parents for the positive attitude towards the exercise and willingness to learn. “Introducing educational materials and physical activity toys to children at an early stage of their development enhances their senses, social skills, self-confidence, independence, creativity and imagination, builds emotional intelligence, improves concentration and most importantly boosts problem solving skills,” she noted.


Parents participate in crafting the play and learning materials.

Ms. Otieno echoed Ms. Adega’s sentiments saying that children love to explore and they learn new things at a very early stage in their lives especially through playing. She urged parents to master the skills and to encourage children to celebrate their victories by displaying every work they complete because it boosts the children’s self-esteem, intellectual and motor development.

Parents were also advised to use bright colours when creating the playing tools to attract the children’s attention, adopt the ‘known-to-unknown’ teaching method while following the child’s lead, encourage and praise the children even when they give wrong answers to keep them motivated and boost their confidence.  Additionally, parents and caregivers were asked to engage the children in activities such as singing, dancing and games that would allow them to work together, take turns and celebrate each other’s success.

Notably, with support from MMUST, project donors and well-wishers, women in the respective iHELP centres were mentored to set-up self-sustaining businesses that will generate income and help them cater for their needs and those of the children.  Businesses such as butchery, grocery kiosks and a canteen that serves both the community and the childcare centre have been established. Other centres are still in the process of brainstorming business ideas they can engage in.

Read More about the MMUST iHELP PROJECT here

 By: Caren Mutoro and Charity Idaya

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