Dealing Kids a Winning Hand

Delfia can use flash cards to teach Juan his ABCs even though she can't read

Delfia and Juan enjoy their time playing and learning with help from the Early Steps to Success Program

Delfia is a 32-year-old mother of five living in a small farming community in western El Salvador. She does not know how to read or write, and there are no schools in her village. But Delfia has found a way to give her youngest child, 18-month-old Juan, a good start on his education.

A community health promoter visited Delfia at home a few months ago and gave her a set of colorful laminated cards. The cards suggest fun learning activities Delfia can do with Juan to help him develop language, cognition, emotional and motor skills. “I use the cards to play with my son,” she says. “We put the toys inside the bucket, then outside, like it shows on the cards.”

Using the cards, Delfia also sings with Juan and asks him to reach for things, name things, count things and identify different body parts. Juan doesn’t always know the answers to Delfia’s questions, but he enjoys trying, and he is developing important language skills.

The health promoter also encourages families in Delfia’s village to go for prenatal visits and well-baby visits where children receive vaccines. When she sees the health promoter, Delfia often asks for new cards. “These cards help children learn more,” she says. “I didn’t do this with my other children, but with Juan I do, and I know it’s going to help him.”

The laminated cards are provided through Save the Children's Early Steps to School Success program, in cooperation with El Salvador's Ministry of Health.

According to the World Bank and others, there is a rate of return of $3 for every $1 spent on early childhood when the most vulnerable children are targeted because children who are prepared for school succeed not only in school, but also in life. Save the Children’s early childhood development programs reach tens of thousands of children like Juan around the world and here in the United States.

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