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Coaching Clinics for Moms: Building upon Existing Community Playgroups

All parents wish to be better parents. But many low-income moms just don’t know where to start. Many low income moms lack both knowledge and confidence to be positive behavior coaches their children need them to be, especially during these critical habit forming years. They tend to perceive child learning as something only "teaching experts" can do. One way of reducing this dependency is to coach those moms who currently bring their kids to community playgroups to take charge of their children's learning. To slowly acquire the necessary knowledge, coping skills, confidence and experience to be better positive behavior coaches themselves.

Photo of Sulin Lau
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In this enhancement to an existing service, new "Coaching Clinic" mechanisms for moms are added to an already established and well-subscribed community playgroup for preschoolers.

There are 4 main aims of the Coaching Clinic programs:
  1. KNOWLEDGE: help low income moms understand better what their kids need from them and the home-family environment in 0-5 years
  2. CONFIDENCE: empower moms that may suffer from low confidence/ esteem/ low authority within their own households to slowly take charge of their kids learning. 
  3. SKILLS COACHING: Create more in-community skills and experience in good parenting practice; more moms who understand the importance cultivating better early stage learning habits, and nurturing healthier, more stimulated, more engaged children. 
  4. STRENGTHEN LOCAL PEER SUPPORT NETWORK: this is crucial given both lower acces to professional support services and higher financial, environmental stresses on low income moms. By building on a pre-existing (once weekly) gathering of mothers of similarly aged children in the local community, part of the program's core aims is also to strengthen peertopeer support and learning network amongst mothers in the local community itselfB) Provide training and development opportunities for members of low-income communities

Who will benefit from this idea and where are they located?

We are designing for urban poor families (household income <USD6000 p.a.) living in Malaysian government low-cost housing projects.

Our pilot community is 1000 families living within PUSAT PERUMAHAN RAKYAT (PPR) Kota Damansara Housing projects. Of these, 70% are ethnic Malay families, 25% Indians and 5% Chinese.

Within this community, Kumpulan Prihatin (a non-profit) runs several on-site community service programs catering to low-income families including a weekly English-language preschool playgroup called "Shining Stars" - where currently 8-25 mothers bring their children every wednesday morning.

How could you test this idea in a quick and low-cost way right now?

The idea was built off the suggestions of local community organizers and playgroup facilitators, and we intend to test the following amongst the mothers currently attending the Shining Stars playgroup.

Stimulus for testing (see above):-
1. HIGH-LEVEL CONCEPT APPEAL: Example posters / flyers advertising the group

2. COACHING TOOLS TEST: proposed activity tracking calendar and 2 sample take-home exercises

3. CLINIC CONTENT, COURSE OUTLINE & LENGTH: proposed 15 weeks broke down into 3 stages (building group rapport classes 1-4, parenting skills practice clases 6-9, Mothers practicing as coaches during playgroup classes 11-14) and interspersed with added rewards of mother-child joint learning trips on weeks 5 and 10.

What kind of help would you need to make your idea real?

General idea-refinement and implementation feedback - particularly from OpenIDEO members who've had similar experience grafting on new mechanisms into existing community programs for urban poor

Help with improving/refining actual Coaching Clinic course outline and content.

Is this an idea that you or your organization would like to take forward?

  • Yes. I am ready and interested in testing this idea and making it real in my community.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Eduardo Babo

Very good idea, Sulin. Information is critual during the pregnancy and can make the diference, because sometimes people have the oportunities but don't have the knowledge and don't know what they should do. Provide some awards to their mothers who get involved in this project can be a good way to encourage them, for exemple basic kits for the kids, clothes for the kids, etc.

Photo of Sulin Lau

Good idea, thanks.
We have incentive learning outings as scheduled reward every 5-6 weeks. But we should also test out more functional incentives - like a healthy nutrition essentials care package.

Photo of Guy Viner

Interesting stuff, Sulin! Perhaps you might consider helping people better grasp how this idea could play out by describing some example scenarios which describe user journeys through some of the proposed activities you've outlined. Check this example: where a few simple scenarios were created in an attempt to explain the goodness on the idea in a human-centered way. (You can update your post at any time by hitting the Update Entry button up there on the right.)

Photo of Guy Viner

And here's a friendly tip: update your OpenIDEO profile so folks can dig who they're collaborating with. Think skills, experience, passions & wit! Looking forward to seeing more of you across conversations on this challenge...

Photo of Sulin Lau

Thanks, Guy! Will do.

Photo of Sulin Lau

And....done! Thanks for the nudge.