A unique project which aims to prepare preschool children for school is in its final few weeks of recruiting families in South Yorkshire.
Delivered by the national charity Family Lives, in partnership with South Yorkshire Futures and South Yorkshire’s local authorities, ParentChild+ aims to improve the home-learning environment through visits by trained workers.
A spokesman for Family Lives said research from the US shows intervening at pre-school age is more effective than targeting children when they start school. The project has been delivered extensively in the US since 1965 and also in Chile, Bermuda, Canada and Ireland. And is currently being piloted in the UK in Ealing, Nottingham and Newcastle.
Visits, described as a ‘mini-nursery in your home,’ occur twice a week for 15 months, with each family receiving at least 92 visits from a home visitor who brings a free toy or book with them each week.
During the sessions, home visitors demonstrate with parents and children how to read, talk and play together. The activities aim to increase parent-child interaction, promote positive behaviour and encourage literacy skills which help to prepare the child for school.
Family Lives has been recruiting families since June and there are still a few places remaining before the last date for sign-up at the end of January.
The delivery in South Yorkshire is a randomised controlled trial of ParentChild+ to test the effectiveness of the programme in the UK. It is funded by the Education Endowment Fund, the Department for Education, and Shine Trust, and the trial will be evaluated by a team from the University of York, Durham University and Leeds Beckett University.
The project is working with South Yorkshire’s four local authorities to identify families who are eligible for, but not taking up, the entitlement to free childcare for disadvantaged two-year-olds, including ‘children in need’ and children who are at risk of being behind their peers in terms of school readiness.
Anyone interested in signing up for the programme should contact:
In Barnsley: Amy Wilson 07971 253000 or AmyW@familylives.org.uk
In Doncaster: Tina Cranshaw 07725 630309 or TinaC@familylives.org.uk
In Rotherham: Laura Ellison 07971253002 or LauraE@familylives.org.uk
In Sheffield: Sara Mohamed 07971253303 or SaraM@familylives.org.uk
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