Programme boosts children's early literacy

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An evaluation of the first year of the Making it REAL programme, published today, has found it has been successful in considerably improving children’s early literacy development.

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The programme succeeded in engaging both mothers and fathers in developing their children's literacy

The project trains early years staff to share knowledge with families about how to build their skills and confidence so they can support their child in learning literacy skills from a young age.

More than half of the early years staff that took part in Making it REAL (Raising EArly Achievement in Literacy) reported a notable improvement in children’s literacy activity. Fifty-three per cent of practitioners reported an increase in the number of children singing rhymes and songs while 55 per cent noted children in their care becoming more engaged in mark-making.

Joyce Connor, programme director for early years at the National Children’s Bureau, said that parents are the most important educators in a young child’s life.

‘We need to work as partners with [parents] to harness this potential for developing their children’s early literacy skills,’ she said.

According to the report, practitioners saw the number of children sharing books increase by 31 per cent to 74 per cent. Furthermore, the proportion of children aged between three and five who could identify more than two words, letters or logos rose from 6 per cent to 35 per cent as a result of the programme.

Making it REAL was also successful in engaging fathers, male carers, and grandparents as well as mothers, in facilitating early literacy development for their children. Seventy-six per cent of parents admitted to feeling very confident in talking about their child’s development after taking part in the scheme. 89% of parents and carers also said they had tried new things at home to help their child with their literacy.

Although it became a national programme in 2009 thanks to lottery funding, the latest report covers Making it REAL’s progress during the first year of its receipt of the Department for Education’s Prospectus Grant.

Making it REAL is set to expand its training services as a result of the grant. In 2014 and 2015 the Early Childhood Unit will deliver a further 70 free one-day training courses across the country, two large-scale regional training events and two practice serving events.

  • Read the Evaluation on Making it REAL here
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