The way families take care of their children shape their buying behaviour. Let’s discuss the top 5 child care trends of 2022 and explore how you can stay on top of them.
The pandemic’s role in speeding up progress in society is large, especially in the child care industry. In one of our past articles, we delved into the future trends in the parenting industry and how the pandemic has influenced them greatly. The motivations of this year’s biggest child care trends are no different.
Moving forward, institutions that concern children are going to be acting based on what happened during the pandemic.
As a brand that largely targets families, it is almost your responsibility to involve yourself with what’s going on to stay relevant. So, what are we dealing with this year?
Child care is going to be more meticulous this year. The quality of education is expected to improve due to the negative effects of the pandemic on children’s learning. Although it’s for the best, the industry is going to face a lot of changes and obstacles. But the good news is, this offers a way for brands to connect with parents on a deeper, emotional level.
Here are the top 5 child care trends of 2022.
1. Early Mental Health Awareness for Kids
Mental health awareness has certainly become more widespread over the pandemic. Lives were being disrupted, and so more people became prone to mental health afflictions. Kids are, of course, not exempt from the risk of mental health problems.
In a 2021 survey by Statista it has been discovered that a concerning amount of kids in Southeast Asia and South Asia are experiencing fear, anger, and hopelessness due to COVID-19.
Cambodia has the highest number of kids who are experiencing fear (47.8%), anger (37%), and hopelessness (25%). The numbers are not as big for countries like Nepal, Indonesia, and Vietnam. However, it’s still too many kids who are negatively affected from a mental perspective by recent world events.
On top of that, there are also plenty of kids who are born with special developmental needs. According to the CDC, about 1 in 6 children (17%) were found to be born with special developmental needs from 2009 to 2017. These numbers are only increasing.
Parents and institutions recognize this now more than ever. Hence, it’s something that the industry will be putting more focus on, in the next year. The days where neurodivergent children would have to live in a neurotypical world without being diagnosed are finally fading away.
Singapore’s Mission I’mPossibles
In countries like Singapore, there are several pre-schools that are going to start screening kids as young as 2 months old for developmental needs as part of a pilot, mental health awareness program. The program is called Mission I’mPossible 2. It follows an earlier and bigger pilot program that focused on children ages five to six years old.
Photo Credit: Channel News Asia/Lianne Chia
Unfortunately, not all Southeast Asian countries can prioritise their youth as much as Singapore does. This is where your brand can come in. Other governments might not see the importance of this yet, but parents are very much aware of this situation. Most of them would appreciate it if brands can help their children become their best selves.
What your brand can do
Showing that your brand is progressive by piloting mental health programs on your own has the capability of touching families’ lives from a personal and emotional level.
These projects don’t have to be as large as Singapore’s Mission I’mPossible. Even weekend group therapy or awareness sessions online or in-person can already be very helpful. Advocating for mental health awareness is also highly valued by this generation’s parents and could push government organisations to give more importance to children’s mental healthcare. A win-win for everyone.
2. Recovering the “Lost Generation”
The pandemic has provided us with what they call a “lost generation.” This year, countries need to recover from this and it will influence the way child care industries behave, just like how the pandemic forced changes in children’s education.
The term “lost generation” has been used a few times in history, and it usually occurs after big economical disruptions like World War I. It means that our youth is currently in a state of instability, and obviously, that’s not good for anyone.
Globally, the education of over 1.6 billion students was disrupted by this pandemic. But this disruption hit younger kids the hardest. “Independent online learning” doesn’t really apply very well for little kids who mostly need 24/7 guidance.
Children whose parents are capable of being hands-on with their education at all times are lucky. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for plenty of other children especially for kids in underdeveloped countries. In the worst cases, kids were forced to drop out of their schools. In India, the dropout rates were as high as 17%.
This has resulted in a concerning number of undereducated children which could greatly affect the nation’s future. In South Asian countries like India, the results are worse because it has forced girls to enter child marriages and boys to engage in child labour.
This is why we are urged to act fast.
What your brand can do
While your brand cannot reverse the effects of the pandemic on children’s education, you can be a supportive figure to families during these times.
Your support can be as simple as offering accessible learning aid and tools online. But it can also be as big as conducting tutoring and awareness sessions for underprivileged communities. This way, you can contribute something concrete and your presence can establish a meaningful relationship with families that will last for years rather than just a surface-level connection.
3. Artificial Intelligence for Early Childhood Education
Artificial intelligence is a powerful development that is currently moulding our world to be better for the world’s younger population. According to UNICEF, big data through AI can do great things such as ensure healthier homes for over 70% of the world’s children by 2050.
Today, AI is already being used by thousands of families for child care. Think of baby monitors and smart toys. But this year, as kids go back to campuses after a long time of online learning, expect AI to start making more impact in the way children receive education. Especially since they have already adjusted to the life of learning with tech.
Artificial Intelligence in Children’s Education
AI can have a way bigger impact on future generations than just making the lives of students and educators easier.
AI will be big in the education sector because it offers access to a more personalised learning experience. Finally, no more “one size fits all” education.
This can be greatly beneficial for our children’s learning journeys as it can do things such as analyse the learning history of a child and give them what they need in order to improve their weaknesses.
To make things better, according to a 2022 study by Jiahong Su and Weipang Yang, AI in early childhood education can not only improve children’s concepts regarding tech but also help them learn skills better. Such skills involve creativity, emotion control, collaborative inquiry, literacy skills, and computational thinking.
It’s no doubt that the child care industry is very interested in utilising AI as much as they can, as soon as possible.
What your brand can do
As children start to grow up in a more technologically advanced world, it is crucial for your brand to adapt. Ideally, you should be involving your brand in AI development for education or AI programs that children would like to participate in. Conducting similar programs will allow families to engage with your brand in a unique, personal way. Not to mention, this will mean that children will be carrying the learnings they will receive as they grow up, leaving them with a lasting, good impression of your brand.
However, there are also less complicated ways to go about this such as marketing your brand to be a cooler, tech-friendly label. Doing so may help you connect with kids better and allow parents to see that your brand is forward-thinking.
AI for the masses is still fairly new. Being able to incorporate it into your brand this early will give you an early edge among your competitors.
4. Global Learning for Children
It is undeniable that people are becoming more and more progressive on a global scale. Parents are now almost 100% Millennials and Gen Z, and their mindsets are very different from past generations. Naturally, these mindsets are changing how the child care industry behaves. Because of this, and the recent pandemic that revealed a lot of issues in the world, global learning is more expected.
Child care centres will gradually start teaching kids about the importance of becoming more socially responsible and politically correct. This is to help them gain a better understanding and curiosity of the world while developing their critical thinking skills.
What your brand can do
Today’s consumers are now led by the younger generation with more progressive mindsets.
While not all children might understand sustainability or politics yet, these things matter to parents. Hence, this year (if you haven’t yet) it will be good to start making subtle to big changes in the way you market your brand in order to stay consumer-friendly to the changing audience.
As cliche as it might be, your brand has to work on becoming more sustainable and politically correct. However, families of this generation are going to need concrete proof of your efforts if your goal is to gain their trust and loyalty.
5. Creative Learning
Creative play alone among kids, especially preschoolers, “develop confidence, language, physical and thinking skills, imagination, and emotional understanding.” Add more spices like music, dance, and arts, and it starts encouraging self-expression and improves decision making, too.
As child care and educational institutions find more ways to produce better kids for the future, creative learning becomes more important. Now, after the pandemic has dulled the educational lives of children, the value of creative learning just became more emphasised.
Tech is still going to be prominent in children’s education but this year and in the coming years, child care will be crazy about creative learning, too. The perfect balance.
In Asia, places like Hong Kong and Singapore are starting to popularise Scandinavian-style forest school models that allow children to explore the outdoors and learn through natural experiences. This is because according to studies, such experiences not only reduce conflict between children ages 0-6 years old, but also develop their strength and coordination.
What your brand can do
Offering partnerships with child care institutions and pre-schools that allow children to become creative learners are going to be highly impactful. It will leave a good impression among parents and educators and a valuable experience for kids.
BONUS: Budget Family Mindset
The pandemic has traumatised families. Just kidding. Sort of. But yes. The sudden effects of the pandemic have changed many families’ mindsets when it comes to their finances. Because of job and income losses, it has forced parents to become more financially literate.
Hence, this year, child care will be more about catering to budget-minded families and will be like this for a while.
What your brand can do
Just like with almost everything else, becoming a supportive figure to families during these times will allow you to connect with them in a great way.
Think about coming up with “budget lunch packs” or creating content that caters to families on a budget. This will show that you really understand their needs at the moment.
Another thing that higher-end brands can do is come up with a fighter brand that can target budget-minded families without having to risk your high-end reputation.