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Learning through play: what is it, and why is it so important to education in Ghana?

POSTED October 31, 2022

Learning through play: what is it, and why is it so important to education in Ghana?

Our associate country director shares how we’re helping children thrive from an early age

By Esenam Kavi De Souza, associate country director, Ghana

The father of this family endorses Children Believe's Learning Through Play training in Ghana

At Children Believe, we dream of a world where every child has a voice and the ability to reach their full potential. To achieve this dream, we recognize the importance of “starting right.”

So, during the last four years, our Ghana program has been focused on early childhood development. We’ve been promoting…

  • good health and nutrition, especially in the pivotal first 1,000 days of life
  • positive and responsible caregiving
  • security and safety of children
  • opportunities for early learning, inside and outside the classroom

To achieve results, we partnered with parents and caregivers to expand their knowledge and change behaviours, attitudes and practices that adversely affect children’s development.

Together with local partner, Participatory Action for Rural Development Alternatives (PARDA), we introduced our Learning through Play (LTP) methodology, a pivotal technique whereby parents learned the importance of providing nutritious meals to their children to improve their health in the first 1,000 days of life.

How Learning Through Play changed one father’s outlook on child development

Learning Through Play is important in Northern Ghana where many men see playing with children as “less serious business.” One such man is Eric Awennyog. The 46-year-old farmer and father-of-five once considered childcare a mother’s primary responsibility.

At the time, Eric wasn’t sure the LTP concept could help the cognitive and social development of children. He questioned its effectiveness at his local early-childhood development (ECD) centre, thinking it lacked practicality in his Builsa culture.

In fact, he’d previously chastised parents who sent their kids to nurseries, seeing it as ‘lazy parenting’ and ‘child pampering.’

But, then, the Children Believe program broadened his knowledge of a child’s development and the need for caregivers to receive training. He learned play helps stimulate early brain function and build a child’s aptitude.

Learning Through Play training in Ghana

Thanks to LTP, Eric (above, in blue) now understands how a child’s emotional, psychosocial and cognitive skills can improve rapidly after birth. He realized children can eventually grow to feel confident and build self-esteem so it’s easier for them to understand and appreciate their environment

He recognized the first 1,000 days of a child’s life is a period of learning, enhanced through play, reading, singing and interacting with caregivers, caring adults and the community.

Today Eric is an ambassador for our Learning-Through-Play approach to responsive caregiving and early learning, a project which has led to the construction of 10 ECD centres in Ghana within the last three years.

“I devote sufficient time to my children and all children in my neighbourhood and now advocate strongly for the LTP concept in my community,” he says, noting he’s seen a positive change in his kids since they attended the program.

What’s more, the wise father and community leader believes LTP has changed children’s lives in his community, giving them the confidence to ask questions and contribute meaningfully to discussions.

How Learning Through Play is making a difference in Northern Ghana

Eric is not alone in his conviction that LTP is improving the lives of children and communities. He’s part of an estimated 80,000 direct and indirect beneficiaries of LTP across three regions in Ghana.

As part of the program, teachers, health workers, community facilitators and various groups, including the Village Savings and Loans Associations and the Youth Savings and Loan Associations learn the methodology.

“I wish other communities would discard misconceptions and take LTP training,” affirms Eric. “We are grateful to Children Believe and all the wonderful donors who have supported us to change the lives of children in our communities.”

A big thank you to ChildFund Korea for their financial support for our Learning-Through-Play projects.

You can help, too. Sponsor a child from Ghana today.

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ABOUT CHILDREN BELIEVE:

Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60+ years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.

About ChildFund Alliance:

A member of ChildFund Alliance, Children Believe is part of a global network of child-focused development organizations working to create opportunities for children and youth, their families and communities. ChildFund helps nearly 23-million children and their families in 70 countries overcome poverty and underlying conditions that prevent children from achieving their full potential. We work to end violence against children; provide expertise in emergencies and disasters to ease the harmful impact on children and their communities; and engage children and youth to create lasting change and elevate their voices in decisions that affect their lives.