This blog was co-authored by:
- Anita Anastacio, Initiative Lead at the LEGO Foundation
- Talat Mahmud, Program Director, Sesame Workshop
- Erum Mariam, Executive Director, BRAC Institute of Educational Development
- Manar Shukri, Early Childhood Development Technical Lead, International Rescue Committee
- Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Co-Director of the Global TIES for Children Center at New York University
Parents play a pivotal role in fostering their children’s learning and well-being, especially when crisis strikes.
Since 2018, the MacArthur Foundation, the LEGO Foundation, Sesame Workshop, BRAC, the International Rescue Committee and NYU Global TIES for Children have been working to bring playful learning to children affected by the Rohingya and Syrian refugee crises through the Play to Learn and Ahlan Simsim (“Welcome Sesame” in Arabic) programs. Support for parents has always been at the heart of our approach.
We know parents are the first and most important teachers and playmates in their children’s lives, and engagement with a caring adult is one of the best ways to support children in managing stress and building resilience in times of crisis.
We also know that other adults often step up as caregivers in these situations. But parents and those other caregivers are also impacted by crisis, and they need dedicated support to meet their own needs while caring for their children.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, while many in-person direct services were suspended, we’ve had to adapt quickly and rethink our approach to supporting caregivers facing the dual crisis of displacement and the pandemic.
As we mark World Refugee Day and Global Parenting Month, we reflect on five key takeaways from our recent work to support refugee parents. We also explore how these takeaways can inform future efforts to provide caregivers with the tools and strategies they need to help children learn, play and thrive, wherever they may be.