An independent study of the two-year pilot programme Early Words Together found that children who took part improved their language comprehension.
The scheme helps to develop young children’s communication and language skills through a six-week programme bringing practitioners and volunteers together to improve the home learning environment for children aged two to five in target families.
The two-year pilot programme run by the National Literacy Trust was funded by the Department for Education.
It involved children in 120 early years settings and children’s centres and nearly 1,000 volunteers and 2,000 parents.
An evaluation of the scheme's impact was carried out by Coventry University’s Centre for Research in Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement.
A survey with 776 parents that took part showed that at the end of the six weeks, three in four parents were reading with their child every day at the end of the programme, compared to half previously.
Eighty-six per cent of parents also reported talking to their children more.
Clare McGread, head of programmes at the National Literacy Trust, said, ‘Early Words Together raises parents’ confidence and gives them activities and strategies to promote their child’s early learning. We’re excited by this first look at the impact of the programme, which has had a distinct effect on families most in need of crucial literacy support.’
Comment from parents included that they read to their children more because they understand how important it was, while another said that their child wanted to visit the library every week now to borrow books.
Childcare minister Sam Gyimah said, ‘All children should join primary school with a good level of literacy and a love of books.
‘Learning to read and write is a key stepping stone to helping children express themselves in life. In turn, these skills are vital if they are to fulfil their potential.’
The study follows the publication of the early years toolkit by the Education Endowment Foundation that showed that parental involvement in a child’s education could boost their progress by five months over a year.
According to recent research by the Sutton Trust, children from the poorest families can be up to 19 months behind their wealthier classmates when they start school at five.
- Read the full evaluation here