Young Children Excelling in Early Learning
Veasna Sokna, a 5-year old girl, is counting numbers on a blackboard while smiling at us. She tells us that she is happy when her mother tries to teach her at home.
Sokna is a preschool student from Thomorsa preschool, which is located 5 kilometres from her house. She lives with her family, including a younger brother, in a small cottage house near the centre of Ekpheap village in Veal Veng district in Pursat province. Sokna’s father is a construction worker who only earns 10 USD a day to support the whole family. However, he is not paid regularly, especially during COVID-19, because his construction jobs are irregular and not consistent.
Ms. Vann, Sokna’s mother recalled: “Previously, my husband and I did not support our children’s education and did not send Sokna to preschool, as we did not understand the value of early learning.” Sokna’s parents never spent the time to teach her at home, even when they were free and not working. As a result, when Sokna turned 4 years old, she did not know how to name any colours or surrounding objects, and she was also terrified to play with other children near her house.
In 2018, with funding support from Save the Children Korea’s various donors, Save the Children, and its partners (District Office of Education) started implementing the Remote Early Learning Project in Sokna’s community. The project began establishing parenting groups to share knowledge around at-home learning tips and help parents send their children to school. The project invited Sokna’s mother to join parenting group meetings, where she learned all about how to support her daughter’s learning and the importance of foundational education
After participating in several meetings, Ms. Vann chose to enrol Sokna in preschool. Sokna was so excited when she received her school uniform and bag for the very first time. “I love going to school, and I love reading books with my mother after school,” Sokna said.
In addition to preschool enrolment, Sokna’s mother started to bring her to the project’s parenting group meetings to have the opportunity to learn together in the community. Sokna is beginning to learn about colours, names of different fruits and vegetables, count numbers, and how to pronounce Khmer consonants.
Even though circumstances have now changed because of school shutdowns caused by COVID-19, Ms. Vann continues to reinforce her daughter’s education at home, planning regular visits from her preschool teacher. “I continue teaching Sokna at home two days per week,” stated Mrs. Phorn, Sokna’s teacher. “Ms. Vann is also helping Sokna to learn at home, where she spends one to two hours a day teaching her.”
Sokna is now becoming very active as she continues developing her early learning. She can now quickly count numbers, where she always helps her mother prepare dinnertime meals while counting spoons in the process. While holding a book in her hand, Sokna tells us that she wants to become a teacher when she grows up.