Shushan, 27, and her daughter Raya, age 5, live in the village of Dprabak in Gegharkunik province of Armenia, where Shushan is a history teacher. In their community, Save the Children worked through the Action for Child Health and Education Project to create an Early Childhood Care and Development Center. The center (preschool) is located in the community’s only school, and its creation has changed the lives of Shushan’s two children and their whole family.
Before the preschool existed, Shushan and her husband were planning to take their family and leave Dprabak for the nearby town Ijevan because they had no one to leave children with during the day: while Shushan works in the village, her husband works in a Ijevan, and their children, ages 5 and 4, were left home all day with their grandmother, who struggled to entertain them while taking care of the home. Shushan also realized that children were missing out important age-relevant care and development by staying at home.
Now, Shushan’s older daughter Raya attends the preschool, and that fact has changed the family’s lives dramatically. Raya’s grandmother only has to take care of her grandson until he too starts at the preschool next year.
Most importantly, Raya spends her days in a nurturing environment where she learns basic reading, writing, counting and other skills, and socializes with other children. Every day she is surrounded by children of her own age, and together they learn how to cooperate, interact and become friends – key parts of early childhood development.
Since Raya has started preschool Shushan says, “In this time I already observe in my child how friendly she has become, how independent, how well she communicates with her friends. Even when we go home, she doesn’t want to stay at home, she wants to hang out with her friends again, play with them.”
Shushan also participated in the positive parenting training conducted by Save the Children for parents of preschool children. She compares their lives now with before. Children would get bored at home all day, and Shushan herself didn’t even know what to do with that. She didn’t realize that she should play alongside them and sit with them while they draw or color. Through Save the Children’s training, Shushan has better learned how to interact with her own children.
The community childcare center has made daily life easier for everyone in the family, and has allowed them to remain in their home community. Shushan says, “The preschool really changed our children’s lives, and we’re really thankful. We’ll stay in our village because we have this beautiful place for our children to go.”
Just like Raya, more than 1200 children from 19 communities in Armenia attend the newly established ECCD centers established by Save the Children’s Action for Child Health and Education project. One of the components of the project works to promote access, quality and sustainability of early childhood care and development cervices in Armenia where 73% of preschool age children do not have access to kindergartens.