More than 40 settings in Shropshire testify to the effectiveness of speech and language course Attention and Listening in the Early Years - which is known locally as Listen with Lucy. Designed and delivered by speech and language therapist Sharon Garforth, it has been running for nine years and is now rolling out nationally.
Course sessions recently proved so popular in Telford that Telford and Wrekin Council asked for another workshop to be run in July.
Ms Garforth says, 'The programme has been particularly in demand across Shropshire and feedback highlights how many settings are seeing wide-ranging benefits from developing a group which focuses on attention skills.'
Attention and Listening in the Early Years is designed for groups of children aged two to four years. Each session is planned around a theme such as The Farm or The Zoo which is the hook for children to gain meaning from listening activities, games and songs.
As part of the training, participants are shown how to develop these themes creatively to match children's interests and catch their imaginations. They say that this approach has proved highly effective in building children's language, listening skills and confidence.
For many, attending one of the workshops is an opportunity to gain the necessary expertise to go on to run groups and train colleagues themselves, and over 40 practitioners have so far done this.
Julie Jones, nursery nurse at the Donnington Wood Infants and Nursery School in Telford, says attending the course certainly equipped her with the skills she needed to roll it out to others.
'She says, 'I personally found the course interactive and fun. We were given six themes to take away to use in our setting, as a springboard to develop our own. Following on from this I am now enrolling to take extended attention and listening training with our Early Intervention Team.'
- Attention and Listening in the Early Years, by Sharon Garforth (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, £19.99, www.jkp.com)