More than half of young children deprived of play and early learning activities with their fathers - UNICEF

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BISHEK/NEW YORK, 17 June 2017 – More than half – or 55 per cent - of children aged between 3 and 4 years-old in 74 countries – approximately 40 million – have fathers who do not play or engage in early learning activities with them, according to a new UNICEF analysis. In Kyrgyzstan, 61 per cent of children of this age lack play and early learning activities with their fathers.

“What these numbers show us is that fathers are struggling to play an active role in their children’s early years”, said Yukie Mokuo, UNICEF Representative in Kyrgyzstan. “We must break down the barriers that prevent fathers from providing their babies and young children a conducive environment for them to thrive, including love, play, protection and nutritious food. We must ensure that all parents have the time and knowledge they need to fully support their children’s early development.

The UNICEF analysis, which uses Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) data on parenting behaviours, looked at whether children aged 3 and 4 engaged in any play and early learning activities with their fathers. The activities include having their father read to the children, tell them stories or sing with them; taking them outside, playing with them; and naming, counting or drawing with them.

To encourage more fathers to play an active role in their young children’s development and highlight the importance of love, play, protection and good nutrition for the healthy development of young children’s brains, this month UNICEF is inviting families to post photos and videos of what it takes to be ‘super dads,’ using the hashtag #EarlyMomentsMatter on their social media accounts, to inspire families across the world to share their ‘super dads’ moments.

“UNICEF urges governments and the private sector to increase spending and influence polices to support early childhood development programmes that focus on providing parents with the resources and information they need to provide nurturing care to their children.  Advances in neuroscience have proven that when children spend their earliest years in a nurturing, stimulating environment, new neural connections can form at a once-in-a-lifetime speed of 1,000 per second. These connections help determine their health, ability to learn and deal with stress,” – said Chinargul Dzhumagulova, ECD Officer, UNICEF Kyrgyzstan.

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