Striving to provide children in Slovak marginalized Roma communities with an optimal environment for their development, upbringing, and education, REYN Slovakia supports parents to improve and streamline their parenting skills, their parental competencies, and stimulates child’s development from birth.
To support parental competencies of Roma parents from Slovak marginalized Roma communities better, very specific programs are run by the Slovak government, but also by several NGOs, some of which are members of REYN Slovakia.
Members of REYN Slovakia have very specific expertise and run various programs. They communicate together regularly, exchange their experiences and good practices, give advice to one another, coordinate their activities, join forces to actively influence early childhood and parental policies and improve quality of lives of Roma children and their families.
TOY for Inclusion and its magic
Wide Open School n.o. – Škola Dokorán,the founding member of the network REYN Slovakiaruns a project TOY for Inclusion.
“This project involves “hard-to-reach” young children from migrant and ethnic minority backgrounds in high-quality inclusive non-formal community education and early childhood care initiatives, facilitates their smooth transition to primary education and improves their learning experience in the long term,“ says Miroslav Sklenka, the director of Wide Open School n.o. – Škola dokorán.
TOY for Inclusion project is well known in several communities in the eastern part of Slovakia thanks to Play Hubs, where the “magic” happens – when children and their parents enter the realm of toys, and books, and play, some of them for the first time in their life. One of the communities for a Play Hub is located in the local elementary school in Spišský Hrhov.
“Families who come to Play Hubs, informal centers run by local action teams, not only spend time with their children, but also meet new families from different backgrounds. The new relationships and ties they will establish in toy libraries are expanding into other spheres as well,” shares director of the school, Mr. Peter Strážik
AFLATOUN encourages holistic development
Another programme – AFLATOUN/AFLATOT – is run by the Open Society Foundation Bratislava and focuses on social and financial education. The program is implemented mainly in marginalized Roma communities. During the program, families learn basic strategies to support their children in their implementation of independent decisions, in perceiving their emotions, discovering nature and its resources, and learning how to save and spend responsibly, and how to share.
“Working with families is a very important since it promotes their involvement in the education and development of children in a more systematic and conscious way. The involvement of parents, especially in early childhood, encourages the holistic development of the child,” says the program manager Erika Szabóová.
Kindergarten Spišská Nová Ves started to implement the programme in 2015.
“The reactions we get from parents are very positive. They cooperate with us eagerly – not only by working on all homework connected with social and financial education with their children, but also by taking part in various community activities we organize,” says the kindergarten director Jana Zajacová.
AMALKY and NP PRIM
Organization OZ Detstvo deťom implements programme AMALKY. The core of the programme are mentors – peer activists who engage in early intervention in the Roma community, directly in families at risk of generational poverty. In the natural home environment, in the presence of mothers, they take care of children from the youngest to preschool age.
“Our activities are prepared in a way which respects the age of children and fosters their development. We bring various developing toys and activities to the families: puzzles, cubes, Montessori activities, children’s books, pencils, crayons, papers, worksheets, and coloring books,” says NGO director Eleonóra Liptáková.
Although not a REYN Slovakia member, a lot of activities in the same field REYN members work in are done by the Office of the Plenipotentiary of the Government of the Slovak Republic for Roma Communities. NP PRIM I and NP PRIM II are projects run on a national level. NP PRIM I focused primarily on families and children from marginalized Roma communities, who were not enrolled in kindergarten and did not attend any form of preschool, but did not exclude other parents and children. NP PRIM II strengthens cooperation with families by creating a new non-pedagogical position in the kindergarten – parental assistant. This assistant helps children and their families with the adaptation and socialization process in kindergartens. The parental assistant works directly with the families of the children in their natural, home environment, which proved successful in NP PRIM I.
These and other programmes and projects focused on the importance of activities with Roma parents in Slovakia to help parents create a better, healthier, successful present and future for their children and thus for the whole Roma community.