Innovative Project Boosts Literacy and Language Skills for Children

A PROJECT to develop communication, language and literacy skills among 0-5-year-olds in Reading has been celebrated by parents and professionals.

Reading Borough Council’s Early Years Service Advisory Teachers ran the RBC HELLO2 scheme after successfully taking part in the National Literacy Trust’s initial Helping Early Language and Literacy Outcomes (HELLO) project in 2015/16.

The projects focused on children who would benefit from further support with their speech and language development at a range of different nurseries.

Reading was one of two local authorities and eight nursery teaching schools to take part in the first HELLO project. A number of settings which had taken part in the first scheme were asked to continue and some new nurseries which had expressed an interest were invited to join in.

Organisers also approached Dr Helen Bilton, Professor of Outdoor Learning at the University of Reading, to participate in the project by visiting each setting to offer advice, attend events and help with the publication of the outcomes of the project.

Activities included filming parents and nursery staff to help develop their story telling abilities, Mark Making training where children experiment with scribbles and patterns to help develop early writing skills and workshops for parents highlighting the importance of vocabulary.

A final celebration event was held at Madejski Stadium in July in which Professor Bilton and Professor Rhona Stainthorp, from the University of Reading, gave presentations, along with officers from the Early Years Service who spoke about some of the activities used during the project.

Ita McGullion, of Kennet Day Nursery, at the Civic Offices, said:

“The main thing that I have taken away from this project is the value of parental engagement through home/nursery liaison, in particular with families who we may have previously found harder to reach.”

Parents also gave positive feedback.

One mother said: “I expected to see my son’s world, but the experience was much richer as I got to see the world from my son’s perspective. I enjoyed the role play; the story telling aspect. I found that very useful in terms of getting new ideas on how to enhance story time.”

Another said: “I now understand the importance of mark making, vocabulary and story-telling and what we can focus on as a parent.”

A HELLO2YOU website has been set up to continue to support those nurseries which took part in the project as well providing a valuable guide on how to run a similar project for other settings across the world.  Reading Borough Council’s school improvement officers and the University of Reading will continue to develop their work together.

Councillor Tony Jones, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Education, said:

“It has been a great benefit for nurseries and parents to take part in this follow up project to the successful HELLO programme with the National Literacy Trust.

“From the comments I’ve heard from parents and staff who participated in the project, it is clear it has made a real impact.

“Good language and communication skills are essential for children as they start their school life and I hope what has been learned from HELLO2 can be shared more widely with parents across the borough.”

David Millward

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