“Before I thought that child education was not parents’ responsibility; it was teachers’,” said Chanthou, a mother of three children. “Our responsibility is to take care of the family income”.
Like Chanthou, most parents living in Krakor district are farmers and fishermen. They did not study at high school and did not know how to educate their children in the years before formal schooling, when they were younger than six years old. Many frequently used violence for discipline when their children did not listen to them.
“My husband can read and write. When he taught my children, he used to hit and blame them when they did not listen to him,” Chanthou explained. “So, he stopped teaching them and the children just hung out with other children.”
She continued that not only her children, other children under six years old did not respect us.
“My children were timid and stubborn, when we asked them to do something, they did not follow us,” Chanthou recalled.
Things began to change in 2016 when Save the Children began implementing the Early Childhood Care and Development for floating villages project in Chantou’s commune. The project aims to create a child friendly environment that incorporates child protection, play, learning and stimulation. Parent groups were established to provide a unique opportunity for families to come together and connect and to learn skills to improve the welfare of their children and families.
“In the meetings [parenting group meetings], I learned about positive parenting, how to teach children through playing and reading together,” Chanthou said explained. “I also learn how to make toys by using water bottles, paper boxes and other existing materials around my house.”
Chanthou has gone on to apply the knowledge she received from the parenting groups with her children. She uses kind words when speaking with them especially when she teaches reading and writing. In addition, in order to increase the relationship, she spends her spare time to play with them. Chanthou also read book with her children every day before bed. As result, her children have changed their behaviors and listen to parents.
“Now, my children are brave and listen to what we tell them. They don’t fight when they play with other children. We share everything together even sadness,” Chanthou explained. “I am happy with the change.”
When we asked her what she wants her children to be when they grow up, she responded without hesitation: Chantou wants her children to get a high school education and to get good job.
“I want my biggest son to be police officer and the second one to be teacher and the youngest to be NGO staff,” Chanthou told us with smile. “This is what I want, but it depends on them.”