Early years development: What if the hokey cokey really is what it’s all about?
This half term, across the country, thousands of parents will be working out how to entertain the kids during the week long break.
For parents of preschool children, though, this is not just an occasional challenge, but a daily one.
It’s not always easy to know which activities will develop both the body and mind of your youngster. Even when you do have a good sense of what works well, the prospect of singing the hokey cokey for the tenth time in a day can drive a person mad.
That’s why we’re launching the £1 million Early Years Social Action Fund, to help parents increase their skills and confidence in giving their kids a great start in life.
During the earliest years, parenting has a bigger influence on a child’s life chances than education, wealth or class. Future success is not determined by parents’ or carers’ jobs, incomes or situation, but by what happens at home.
What we do with our kids in their earliest years - and how we do it - really matters
What also matters is that 30 per cent of children in the UK begin school without having met the developmental milestones needed to get the best start.
Being ready to learn at four - when most children start school- is hugely important. Children who struggle at school, even in the first few years, are unlikely to catch up and, in turn, have poorer life outcomes such as lower exam grades, lower incomes and are more likely to be unemployed.
Given this, supporting parents as first educators is vital to ensuring children have a start that sets them up for a brilliant future.
We also know that it takes a village to raise a family, and the role the wider community plays in supporting families is significant.
Social action has a role to play in this support. Making meals for neighbours with newborns, running local stay and play drop-ins for parents, and holding one-to-one peer support sessions, all occur across the length and breadth of the country.
There is, then, a clear opportunity to make use of these networks; to harness the opportunity of social action; to support parents so their children achieve their development milestones.
Our sense is that there are some networks that are already doing this well; developing knowledge of early years development into programmes that boost the confidence and skill of parents to support their children.
The 30 per cent gap in attainment, together with the clear role communities can play in helping parents as first educators, is why we have launched the Early Years Social Action Fund. This £1 million fund will support proven social action programmes that improve the confidence and ability of parents to help their children achieve their development milestones.
We are looking to support four to six organisations with grants of £150,000 to £250,000 to scale proven approaches; those who are already using social action to lift parents confidence and ability to help children 0-4 meet development milestones.
The Early Years Innovation Fund will offer grant funding and dedicated support to scale the most successful approaches. All projects will work with a majority of families who are ‘just about managing’. We are especially interested in supporting:
- Mentoring models to skill up parents and carers
- Peer to peer models to skill up parents and carers
- Models which mobilise digital technologies to increase awareness of key skills (language, physical movement) and increase their practice in the home
It may, or may not include the hokey cokey, but if you have a programme that can better support parents and help more children meet their developmental milestones, then do apply. Expressions of Interest close midday Wednesday 29 March 2017.