Thousands of children not learning at home

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A new DfE campaign will encourage parents to chat, play and read with their children after research revealed mums and dads don't have the time to teach their under-fives letters or numbers.


The DfE video advises parents how to chat, play and read with their children

Findings from the Department for Education’s survey of 2,685 parents show that almost a third of children (31 per cent) do not read books with someone at home each day.

Only half learn the alphabet or recognise words, while fewer than 60 per cent learn numbers, count, learn songs, poems or nursery rhymes.

However, 34 per cent of parents surveyed said they would like to spend more time engaging in learning with their children and taking part in activities if they had more free time and worked fewer hours.

The findings have been released ahead of the launch of a Government campaign, in conjunction with the National Literacy Trust, later this year urging parents to ‘Chat, Play, Read’ with their children before they start school.

The campaign will offer free advice and information to help parents make practical changes to their relationship with their children.

Ahead of the campaign, the DfE has released a new video starring journalist and co-founder of Mum&You, Natasha Kaplinsky, along with media psychologist Emma Kenny, as a 'useful tool' for parents on how they can chat, play and read with their children.



Children and families minister Nadhim Zahawi said, 'We want to create a generation of confident learners – and parents are a child’s first and best teacher, helping to get them talking and communicating before they reach the classroom. You don’t need expensive books or toys to help children develop literacy skills. It can be as simple as reading a library book together or making up your own stories – little interactions can have a huge impact.

'Children from lower income families are more likely to fall behind at school compared to their peers and once you’re behind it’s hard to catch up. That’s why we are launching a major new campaign later this year to help parents incorporate Chat, Play and Read into their daily life, putting their children on track to succeed.'

Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, said,'Changing the course of a child’s life story doesn’t begin on their first day of school, but on their first day of life. And it starts with small talk. Every seemingly small interaction between a parent and a child is a great opportunity to fill that child’s world with words: bath time can be a great time to sing a song together, bus journeys can provide opportunities to talk about what you see around you, and a trip to the library will enable you to choose a book to take home and share together.

'To make these small changes part of normal life, we must support the people, places and services that regularly come into contact with parents and children to promote positive messages around the three areas we know support a quality home learning environment: Chat, Play and Read.'

The announcement comes months after the launch of the DfE's coalition of businesses, charities, tech companies and media organisations that have committed to helping young children's home learning.

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