Development of an Abu Dhabi-specific Parenting Program


  • Professor Michelle Kelly, Emirates College for Advanced Education
  • Professor Christin Camia, Zayed University Abu Dhabi
  • In partnership with the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority

Funded by

Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority

Project Summary

The project aims to develop, design, implement, and measure the effectiveness of a parenting program specific to Abu Dhabi. With this program, we aim to support parents of young children in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to raise happy and healthy children. Key objectives of the program are (a) to build parents' knowledge about early childhood development, (b) to support their parenting skills and capabilities; and (c) to educate them about support services available to them should they or their child need additional support.

The development of this program is a collaboration and partnership between NYUAD and the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority, together with the Emirates College for Advanced Education and Zayed University. Together, we have developed a working Theory of Change for the Parenting Program based on which we created the content for the sessions and the guide for the facilitators who will run the sessions with the parents. We are currently in the pilot phase of the Parenting Program. An important aspect for us is to test the content and activities we developed for the program. To do so, we will run a research study to measure the intended outcomes. The lessons learned from the pilot study will inform the next phase(s) of the implementation of the Parenting Program.


When parents complete this program they would have learned about:

  • How to engage, talk and play with their child
    Why is it important? Stimulating back-and-forth interactions support children's brain development by providing opportunities for early learning. How to create such opportunities is an essential component of nurturing care which is so critical for young children's healthy development (see the Nurturing Care Framework by the WHO). In addition, such interactions encourage fun moments between the parent and child which is important for a strong parent-child relationship.

  • How to observe their child grow
    Why is it important? If parents are aware of their child's needs and interests, they can provide early learning opportunities at the right level of stimulation (not too easy, not too difficult but with the appropriate scaffolding to enable learning). It also helps parents to know about "expected" progression and milestones which is important for early detection of developmental delays and early intervention.

  • How their own life story influences their parenting practices
    Why is it important? If parents become aware of their own life story and their journey (i.e., how they became the person they are today), it helps them develop in their role as a parent and understand the influence of their own life story on how they interact with and raise their child. In case their own life story was challenging, such knowledge helps them break negative cycles.

  • The importance of culture
    Why is it important? Culture shapes everyday family routines and activities, including parent-child interactions. By creating routines and celebrating traditions, parents can help their child appreciate their heritage and culture.