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Dear Parent,

Welcome to The Cradle, Uganda’s first 24-hour childcare & lactation Centre designed for the workplace.

The vision of The Cradle is a Uganda where women are free to maximize and explore their full potential and still be able to enjoy motherhood by creating safe and easily accessible spaces for childcare and lactation. These spaces allow for women to be fully engaged in pursuing their careers, playing an active role in our country’s governance, economic and democratic processes and influencing the direction of our country without having to make the difficult choice to sacrifice one at the expense of the other.

Uganda has one of the youngest fast-growing populations in the World with 63% of her female workforce of childbearing age. With a fertility rate among the highest at 5.8 children per woman. 63% of women give birth by age 20 years; the average working age commencement.  It is predicted in the next 5 years the biggest percentage of Uganda’s working force; women will be of childbearing age. Sadly, 13.4% of these women will most likely face workplace gender disparity in their work life caused by absenteeism due to domestic and childcare requirements. 

Furthermore, in the last decade, Uganda has experienced a drastic change in the dynamics of living and working in Uganda. There are more dual-income families due to an increased standard of living. Young adults are pursuing further study to accomplish their career goals and work extra hours and days for financial stability. There is also an increased number of single mother households where cases of child neglect by fathers and failure to offer financial support every year.

Unfortunately, mothers are forced to leave their children with inexperienced, uneducated house-helps, relatives or friends, exposing them to child abuse, violation of their rights, child trafficking and sexual harassment; Mothers are finding it increasingly difficult to focus on their jobs and sometimes opt to leave completely.

Currently, 37% and 29% of the public and private sector of employees are women respectively; a low representation explained by demands attributed to reproductive activities. The Gender and Productivity Survey: Analytical Report Uganda, 2014, states that the presence of young children in the household aged between 0 and 5 years reduces employed women’s productivity by 40% and 79% for full time employed women and self-employed women respectively.

Therefore, employers are faced with the challenge of the recruitment of a productive workforce; with the increased number of women in the workforce of childbearing age, their childcare responsibilities have affected their productivity, increasing staff turnover and absenteeism; a cost to the employer. If policymakers, Government and the private sector do not recognize the time constraints faced by women and design social protection programs for child nurturing activities, the participation of women in the workforce will be reduced even further.

In an aim to provide a solution to this problem, The Cradle opened in June 2014 and since then impacted at least 500 middle class working families in Kampala, who work near or within the central business district. The Cradle serves to benefit employers; parents and their children through the provision of spaces located at workplace premises (onsite), near workplaces (near site) and in residential areas (offsite) around the country, and in all the major districts of Uganda. These spaces are provided to employers at a subsidized cost which the employer then gives to the employee at either full, subsidized or no cost at all as an employee benefit.

Our programs are designed to cater to the developmental needs of children subdivided into four age groups; 0-12 months, 13- 24 months, 25- 36 months and 37- 48 months and so we developed Uganda’s first indigenous  4-part infant play curriculum using child brain stimulation techniques to get our children thinking critically, creatively and to solve problems innovatively preparing them for school and for the competitive World they will live in. 

We hope that you will challenge your workplace to subscribe to our services so your children can be enrolled either at our offsite centres or onsite at your workplace and allow us to share the responsibility of raising your child with you because your dreams matter and we can promise that “We’re There When You Can’t Be”

 

Manuela Mulondo Chief Care Officer

Resources

There’s an old African proverb that says if you want to hide something from an African, put it in a book. Why do you think this is? 

Partners Manuela Pacutho Mulondo, founder and CEO of The Cradle and Tracy Burns, founder and CEO of The Business of Play joined forces in 2017 when their search for the solution to Africa’s problem of delayed learning in preschool-aged children pointed them to the fact that a lack of early childhood stimulation through simple verbal communication early and often in a child’s life leads to stunted neural development, delayed communication, limited vocabularies and a disdain for reading books that lasts a lifetime. As a result, society and economy suffer from a lack of creativity, critical thinking skills, health problems, and academic attrition. 

Culturally, adults talk to adults, children talk to children and only when directions or admonishments are given do the two interact. This lack of early and often deliberate communication undermines the way the human brain develops through repeated patterns of sounds. It is our mission to raise awareness with any and all caregivers of children through education about the science of brain development and the practical techniques to encourage verbal communication with babies from birth to age 5 and beyond. This counter-cultural information is the key to planting the seeds for developing a lifetime love of learning and lays the groundwork for academic and societal success, ushering in the next generation of great African leadership. 

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Child Brain Stimulation Workshops were born out of a partnership between The Cradle and The Business of Play with a common shared goal of educating caregivers to raise the next generation of leaders, initially starting in Uganda, from the most crucial years of cognitive development, ages newborn to 5 years. Our shared goal is to change the face of early childhood development by holding educational workshops throughout the entire country, in villages, churches, and ECD’s, taking participants through a multi-level course on child brain stimulation encompassing topics on how to TALK, READ, PLAY, and DISCIPLINE the children in their care, among other topics. The Cradle in partnership with The Business of Play aims to teach caregivers how to stimulate a child’s creativity and problem-solving skills through simple interactions with their caregivers called serve and return play. Caregivers learn researched techniques to foster learning, connection, curiosity, and a rapidly expanding vocabulary which in turn leads to accelerated neurological and academic growth for years to come.

The Programs

Level I TALK: How to stimulate a child’s brain through TALK. 

Instead of leaving a child to entertain themselves or merely play outside with peers, we educate participants on the importance of stimulating children’s brain development by interacting with children by talking to them during everyday activities. Following the 1st edition of the child stimulation workshop held in October 2017, participants who successfully completed Level I of the course went through Level II; How to stimulate a child’s brain when you READ to them.

Level II READ: How to stimulate a child’s brain through READing. 

Reading books to children stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the world through emotional and intellectual empathy. It helps them develop language and listening skills and prepares them to understand the written word. Reading to babies and toddlers sets them up to succeed in life, develops language skills, enhances their concentration, encourages a thirst for knowledge, teaches them about different topics, develops their imagination and creativity, provides entertainment and helps to create a bond between parents and children. The neural connections that are formed and strengthened through repeated, intentional use of language shapes the architecture of the brain, speeds the sending and receiving signals and develops critical thinking as a byproduct of discussions about the reading. 

Level III PLAY: How to stimulate a child’s brain through intentional PLAY.

Research shows that play is vital to a child’s development, equipping them with the skills necessary to tackle humanity’s future, such as emotional intelligence, creativity, and problem-solving. To be a superhero is to lead; to host a teddy for tea is to organize; to build a fort is to innovate: to play is to learn. Playtime is not only something that lets kids be kids but is something that sparks the fire for a child’s development and learning.  Children who can play in a safe and supportive environment develop face-to-face communication, teamwork and negotiation skills, allowing them to become more resilient to life’s challenges.

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Level IV DISCIPLINE: How to stimulate a child’s brain through positive DISCIPLINE.

Research has shown that children are born with the need to connect with others, and children that feel a connection with their family, school, and community are less likely to misbehave. And to be successful members of their community, children need to learn appropriate social and life skills. Positive discipline helps teach these skills. There are no bad kids, just bad behavior: this is the idea behind positive discipline. Positive discipline is a discipline model that focuses on positive aspects of behavior. With positive discipline, caregivers and educators reinforce and teach good behaviors while eliminating unwanted behaviors; bad behaviors are weaned out without harming the child verbally or physically. Children are taught to control themselves, take responsibility, and think about how their actions affect themselves and others. Positive discipline teaches children to become responsible and respectful members of their communities.

The short term plan is to saturate specific areas for two weeks at a time, starting in the Tororo District in Uganda hosting morning and afternoon workshops with villagers, teachers, parents and leaders in the community, teaching them the information in the different levels as they build on one another, until the area is saturated and then moving on to the next area, Gulu and working our way around the country in such a manner. While teaching in the areas we will also identify and train local leaders to continue to carry out future workshops and followup with attendees who may have questions or need further information after practicing what they have learned as well as assess how well the information is being utilized and offering constructive feedback to both management and attendees. 

The long term plan is to have local permanent hubs where parents and caregivers can go to get help, guidance, and education, while at the same time offering stimulating activities to children of all ages, including access to a reading library, stimulating toys, a chess club, computer access and workshops for older children on leadership and entrepreneurial skills. We also aspire to record the teachings we present and get them on the radio and television for faster decimation. 

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Through all of these workshops, our mission is that caregivers can help the children in their care reach their greatest potential in life. Research has proven that the first five years are foundational to preparing a person for a successful life. What we do with children in those first years sets the stage not only for the child’s success but the next generation’s future as a whole. It is our passion that not another generation of African leaders be left behind, that we take full advantage of the critical brain-building time in a child’s life and capitalize on this accelerated period of neural growth, leading to a greater tomorrow for everyone.