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Involving parents in children's literacy

23 April 2015

​More than 70 Jersey families have been learning to love literacy with their pre-schoolers thanks to a new course that’s trained 20 nursery staff to work with them in their homes.

As part of a course funded by ESC, nursery staff from States, private and voluntary organisations have been visiting parents of under 5s to show them how to share stories, rhymes and craft activities. They have also left resources with the parents and invited them to a variety of events promoting literacy. These have included visiting and joining the library and exploring their local area on foot and looking at words they find.

The aim of the project is to help parents put the vital building blocks in place for their child’s later learning. It focuses on key strands of literacy such as using books, early writing, print in the environment and oral language.

The staff have been trained through the Raising Early Achievement in Literacy (REAL) course, which was piloted in Jersey over the past four months. It is based on a renowned Sheffield University research project that was used to design a programme that gives young children a strong start in literacy and, as a result, a stronger start in school.

ESC Minister Deputy Rod Bryans said “One of our priorities is to work with families so that we can improve the chances for their children. This project is a perfect example of how that can happen. It’s simple but extremely effective way to kick-start a love of learning. If children enjoy reading with their mum and dad it will stay with them for the rest of their life and have enormous benefit in their education.”

Ruth Livesey, ESC’s Early Years Adviser, set up the training. She said “Before children go to school, they learn so much from their families. The project equips parents to help their children develop literacy skills. This is about giving young children opportunities to practice writing and enjoy books at home. The staff work with parents to help them recognise how important  it is to make time to interact with their children to expand their vocabulary and to be a model themselves by letting children see them reading and writing.”

Nicky Hay, a nursery teacher at Bel Royal School, took part in the REAL training and said “Working with the parents I saw a great impact on the children’s development and the project has harnessed the potential that parents didn’t even realise they had to develop literacy in their own home.”

Karen Ogilvie, the manager of Village Pre-School, said “The course has given my nursery officer such an insight and better knowledge on how to plan for children’s literacy in the pre-school setting and in a home setting. It has also made us as a team look at the way we plan and provide literacy for children in our setting. My member of staff has put a lot of effort into planning the event days and home visits and I can see how it’s helped her develop professionally.”

Carla Piertiero, a parent at Rouge Bouillon School, said “The course was very good and I think that lots of parents should have the opportunity to do it because it gives us lots of activities that we can do with them and helps us with English and Portuguese too. I think this should continue.”

Parent Nathalie Stent said “As well as being great fun, this opened our eyes. We knew that stories were important so we read them at bedtime but we never thought about reading stories at any time, anywhere or using the world around us every day to look at words.”

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