Bags promote better links between nursery and home
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Resources designed to bridge the gap between nursery and home are helping to support children's communication skills, according to a new evaluation.
Educational consultancy Elizabeth Jarman's Communication Friendly Spaces 'Bags for families' was found to strengthen the relationship between parents and carers and their early years setting.
Early years specialist Elizabeth Jarman, who designed the resource, said the bags are used 'as a tool to open a creative dialogue between home and setting'.
Included in the ten bags are tents, wicker baskets, torches, rugs and blankets, which the children are able to borrow to take home and use in their creative play.
Parents and carers are invited to take photos and share with the nursery how the children used them.
The programme, launched last year, has distributed nearly 8,000 bags to 65 local authorities in England and Wales.
The evaluation by RM Insight involved 125 early years providers, including nurseries, childminders and family workers, from six local authorities in England.
Providers were asked what their communication was like with parents and carers before and after the bags were introduced, to monitor whether there was an improvement in the interaction.
Sixty-four per cent of practitioners said that using the bags led to them to talking more often with families and 77 per cent said that communication had improved. Some settings documented what the children did with the bags by using books and photographs.
Ms Jarman said, 'They encouraged parents to take photos of what the children did, which provided something tangible to trigger conversations. Having the pictures gave the practitioner and parents something to talk about.'
She said they deliberately tried not to go down the route of suggesting what families could do with the resources.
Sometimes she was surprised at what the children came up with. One little boy used 'outdoor resources', including a tarpaulin and baskets, to make a landscape indoors for his toy dinosaurs.
She said settings needed to do more than 'just be sending a book home' to engage with parents, adding that dads in particular had responded to the project. 'It's a powerful illustration about the way to engage Dads,' she said.