Video: Evans learns through play

Discover how play is changing Evans’ life in Uganda.

Each day, thousands of children attend BRAC’s network of Play Labs across Bangladesh, Tanzania, and Uganda. Our flagship play-based approach to early childhood education helps children build better futures at a critical time in their development. Through play, learners develop creative and social skills, build self-confidence, and cultivate resilience. Meet Evans and see how play is helping him build a brighter future.

Video: Nasra discovers the power of play

Discover how play is changing Nasra’s life in Tanzania.

Each day, thousands of children attend BRAC’s network of Play Labs across Bangladesh, Tanzania, and Uganda. Our flagship play-based approach to early childhood education helps children build better futures at a critical time in their development. Through play, learners develop creative and social skills, build self-confidence, and cultivate resilience. Meet Nasra and see how play is helping her build a brighter future.

Video: Birungi learns to spread her wings and fly

Discover how play is changing Birungi’s life in Uganda.

Each day, thousands of children attend BRAC’s network of Play Labs across Bangladesh, Tanzania, and Uganda. Our flagship play-based approach to early childhood education helps children build better futures at a critical time in their development. Through play, learners develop creative and social skills, build self-confidence, and cultivate resilience. Meet Birungi and see how play is helping her build a brighter future.

Video: Anas builds a brighter future

Discover how play is changing Anas’ life in Tanzania.

Each day, thousands of children attend BRAC’s network of Play Labs across Bangladesh, Tanzania, and Uganda. Our flagship play-based approach to early childhood education helps children build better futures at a critical time in their development. Through play, learners develop creative and social skills, build self-confidence, and cultivate resilience. Meet Anas and see how play is helping him build a brighter future.

Learning in a pandemic: 4 tips for parents and caregivers with young children at home

As more than a billion students around the world put their schooling on pause, families are doing more than ever to bring learning home.

Play lab leader and children in Tanzania

BY SARAH ALLEN, MIA PEREZ, AND ROSA TAYLOR

 

According to UNESCO, more than 90 percent of the world’s learners have been impacted by school closures during the coronavirus pandemic. As more than a billion children around the world are forced to put their schooling on pause, parents and caregivers are left in challenging situations, often balancing work with child care or home schooling to keep their children from falling behind.

Since 2016, BRAC Play Labs have offered quality, affordable play-based learning for children, ages three to five, in underserved communities. Play Labs deliver education through a community-based model and engage caregivers in their children’s learning beyond the classroom. Here are four tips from our Play Labs to help your family bring playful learning home.

 

 

1. Create spaces that facilitate learning

Learning environments are a crucial factor in learning. Play Labs are designed to encourage play and facilitate learning, incorporating child-friendly elements such as windows that are low to the ground and zones for different types of play, such as make-believe, music, art, and reading.

While this works for Play Labs, caregivers who are bringing learning home do not need to designate a separate room or special furniture for learning. Instead, consider creating learning spaces from regular home settings, such as a corner of a common room or an outdoor space. Try identifying areas that can be used for different purposes, such as a table for arts and crafts or a corner with floor space for play with toys. Creativity and imagination help create safe and engaging learning environments.

 

 

2. Use everyday items as low-cost learning materials

Play Labs are unique for their low-cost and sustainable learning materials. Parents and caregivers meet on a quarterly basis to decorate learning spaces and create contextually appropriate toys with locally sourced materials. For example, families in East Africa use banana leaves to create dolls, jump ropes, and balls, and in Bangladesh, families use clay to create produce for a make-believe market.

For young children transitioning to at-home learning, everyday items can be engaging play materials. Household staples like flour; dry rice, beans, or pasta; and shaving cream can be used for sensory play. Kitchen items such as pots and pans, utensils, and plastic containers can become musical instruments or building blocks and facilitate pretend play. Outdoor objects like rocks, leaves, or flowers can be used for art, science, or counting and sorting.

 

 

3. Harness play for learning and resilience

Emerging research indicates that play can promote resilience and establish a sense of normalcy for children in crisis settings. To support children, Play Labs favor playful and participatory activities over rote learning, and caregivers are encouraged to play with their children at home to support social, cognitive, and language development.

While many children have had their routines interrupted, play can help them build a new sense of normalcy. Rather than focusing on teacher or parent-led activities, caregivers can incorporate spontaneous, voluntary activities at home. Block out time for free play and follow your child’s lead. You can also incorporate playful learning into everyday activities. For example, use cooking or baking to explore numeracy skills, or practice colors and sorting while doing laundry.

 

 

4. Prioritize your mental wellbeing

A caregiver’s mental wellbeing can have a big impact on their child. In Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, where we have adapted our Play Lab model to support children affected by the Rohingya humanitarian crisis, psychosocial support is integral. BRAC trains teachers to recognize signs of psychological distress in both children and caregivers. When necessary, the teachers refer family members for specialized support.

With major shifts in child care, employment, health, and daily life, many caregivers are facing exceptional stress. It’s important to learn to recognize and respond to stress and anxiety in our children, but also in ourselves. Mitigating your own stress using common approaches like meditation, exercise, and journaling can help you better support your child. If you need additional support, consider options like tele-counseling. This is a challenging, destabilizing time, but virtual resources are more accessible than ever.

As COVID-19 continues to impact the families we serve, BRAC is committed to protecting and engaging children and caregivers. We have paused in-person learning to ensure participant safety, and are working to adapt our education services and launch remote resources to support learning at home. Our priority is to ensure children and families keep healthy, stay connected, and continue learning throughout the pandemic.

Learn how you can support families affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

 

Sarah Allen is Communications Officer, Mia Perez is a Program Associate for Education and Youth, and Rosa Taylor is a Program Officer for Education at BRAC USA.

Video: The power of play

Discover how play is changing lives in Tanzania and Uganda

Each day, thousands of children attend BRAC’s network of Play Labs across Bangladesh, Tanzania, and Uganda. Our flagship play-based approach to early childhood education helps children build better futures at a critical time in their development. Through play, learners develop creative and social skills, build self-confidence, and cultivate resilience. Discover the power of play in Tanzania and Uganda.

Video: Classrooms that celebrate potential

Al Amin’s hands take him on a journey around the world, all from inside his classroom

Inclusion is at the heart of BRAC’s education programs. We unlock the ability and potential of every student who enters our classrooms. Al Amin is one of more than 40,000 children and young people with disabilities that BRAC reaches through education. We educate communities about disabilities, train teachers, adapt curricula, and provide appropriate materials, devices, and medical assistance for learners with disabilities.

Video: Classrooms that celebrate diversity

BRAC schools ensure children from all backgrounds have an equal opportunity to learn

How do you create classrooms that celebrate diversity? We take a look at the most remote parts of Bangladesh, where BRAC’s classrooms teach and promote the languages of diverse communities, capture their stories, and ensure that children from all backgrounds learn from each other.

Video: Every child deserves a childhood

Follow Ayub for a day and see life through his eyes

Ayub is 11 years old. He lives in the world’s largest refugee camp. Since the onset of the Rohingya refugee crisis in 2017, the lives of nearly half a million children like Ayub have been dramatically disrupted by displacement, loss, and trauma. Follow Ayub for a day, and see how our work is providing him with a safe place to learn and play.

Lego and ‘Sesame Street’ unite with $100m project to benefit refugee children

There’s no greater image than that of a happy, healthy child playing and giggling.

Photo courtesy of Sesame Workshop

By Dana Feldman

 

Below is en excerpt of a piece originally published in Forbes. Click here to view the full piece.

There’s no greater image than that of a happy, healthy child playing and giggling. Unfortunately, as we all know, this isn’t the reality for many children the world over.

The LEGO FoundationSesame Workshop and organizations working with Syrian and Rohingya refugees have teamed up on a humanitarian project announced today in an effort to change the daunting reality for refugee children. The goal is to help children up to age six heal from trauma with play-based learning programs.

LEGO will provide $100 million over the course of five years to the creators of Sesame Street to expand their work with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in the countries surrounding Syria, and also to partner with the Bangladeshi relief organization BRAC that works with Rohingya refugees.

“The goal of the humanitarian play lab is to build resilience and empower children and their communities,” says Director for BRAC University’s Institute of Educational Development, Dr. Erum Mariam. She’s been running BRAC’s education programs for more than 25 years and describes the children of the Rohingya community as some of the most talented and spontaneous she’s worked with. “We have been working with the children over the past 14 months to collect ‘Kabbiya’ (rhymes), physical play activities and ‘Kissa’ (stories) so that the humanitarian play lab provides children with self-confidence and pride. The entire model is based on the idea that play heals and play helps children to learn.”