Minister of Education, Youth and Sport Hang Chuon Naron has called on parents and guardians to pay special attention to very young children to make them physically and mentally strong.
In a video interview titled, Education and Child Development that was prepared by the education ministry and released on Sunday, Chuon Naron said parents must make a special investment in the very young as a basis for their ongoing education.
“I have observed that parents mostly invest in their children when they are in secondary school and higher. They don’t seem to concern themselves as much with their children when they are younger, thinking that younger children don’t have any problems.
“We have to look after children from pregnancy until three years old and pay attention to attitude, behaviour, and knowledge to make the child more independent and able to handle things by themselves,” he said.
The minister asserted that parents need to pay attention to the education of their child in all aspects, including nutrition, education, healthcare and hygiene.
“We have observed that Cambodian parents do not cooperate and participate in school,” he said, adding that the ministry’s concept of reform means encouraging parents and guardians to participate in every meeting related to the child’s development.
“According to research studies, to make a child strong, healthy and smart is to focus on his foundation, especially the first 1,000 days after they are born,” he said.
During that period, he said, a child’s brain develops 70 per cent. But if a child lacks enough nutrition it can be bad for physical and mental development in the future.
Children also learn habits at this time, the minister said. On that note, reading to children is important to promote a love for reading.
Kindergarten is not just a school where children learn to read and write. He said it is a place to train children in skills like good behaviour, good habits, self-management and to be an independent learner.
“That means children can take off their shoes, clothing and know where to put their belongings when they are at school. The child who studies hard at kindergarten will then take that thinking to secondary school and higher education.”
Early childhood care and development specialist at Plan International, Soth Sakan, said at that stage of a child’s development is very important to focus on physical and mental development.
She said the fastest brain development stage of childhood is from zero to five years, but from zero to two years is the fastest development – 80 per cent to 90 per cent brain growth.