‘What parents do is more important than who parents are.’
Social class, income, living conditions and parents’ own education levels are clearly directly related to child development outcomes. However, the quality of the early home learning environment (from birth) acts as a significant modifying factor. All parents can enhance their child’s progress if they engage regularly in activities that encourage positive social development and thinking (stretching children’s minds). The play activities seen to have the most impact are reading and sharing books, going to the library, going on visits, playing with letters and numbers, singing songs and rhymes, drawing and painting and playing with friends. The research also indicates that boys are less likely than girls to have the benefit of these high quality early learning experiences.
Children with strong early home learning environments are ahead in both social and cognitive development at the age of three. They show advanced language ability, higher levels of confidence, cooperation and sociability, as well as having greater discrimination and spatial skills (recognising similarities in pictures, completing patterns and block building). This advantage continues as the children progress through school, as they continue to perform well on language and discrimination tasks and show greater awareness of rhyme and alliteration, written symbols and early number concepts. At the age of seven they attain more highly on standardised reading and maths tests as well as expressing more positive attitudes towards learning.
National Children’s Bureau © 2013
Making it REAL Raising Early Achievement in Literacy
Handy scoopers: these help children practice the motion needed for scissor use while developing hand strength and fine motor skills. These translucent scoops have holes to make them fun when used with water. (Safety note: supervise all water play.)
Gator grabbers: these fun coloured tweezers will help to develop coordination skills whilst developing hand strength and fine motor skills. I’m sure you can find many items in your home that children can pick up and place in dishes.
Twisty droppers: these soft durable bulbs allow for easy suction and are perfect for exploration and investigation. They help strengthen the finger muscles and require coordination to us one handed. Great for bath play and can even be used in puddles! (Safety note: supervise all water play.)
Squidgy sparkle shapes: these shapes are able to be squeezed, bent and pressed and the patterns within will fascinate children whilst helping them with shape recognition. They could also make bath times fun! (Safety note: supervise all water play.)
Number dot beanbags: these colourful beanbags help children to understand the connection between a number and the corresponding amount. These are great when used as part of a game, such as aiming and throwing into a basket which also helps hand eye coordination.
Magnetic polydron: these allow children to explore the world of shape, space and magnetism all in one. They are great fun…what can you build with them? (Safety note: magnets are dangerous if swallowed.)
Rhyme robber: this is a fun rhyming game where you collect the sets of rhyming words to put in your swag bag. But beware of robbers pinching your cards! This game can be adapted to span varying abilities.
Shape snap: children will learn about shapes with this first snap game. They are also great for counting, sorting and colour matching.
Wooden nursery rhyme characters: children will love the characters to their favourite nursery rhymes. Nursery rhyme cards are included and help children develop literacy skills.
Bedtime Beat Baby: with her sleepy eyes, this adorable cuddly toy loves to listen to rhymes and stories before bedtimes and naps. This resource could help parents with bedtime routines. (Manufacturer advises children to be 3+)
Connecting camels: these colourful, fun elephants promote counting, number recognition, estimation and measuring. You could even weigh them. They come in 3 different sizes; small, medium and large.
Thick wooden jigsaw puzzles: puzzles help children fine motor skills and coordination and promote literacy as you discuss the pictures with them.
Dinosaur bones and match and measure cards: these exciting and wonderfully attractive bones help children to match, count, compare, order and measure.
Giant chalk: these chunky chalks are great for pavement art…let your imagination get carried away!
Assorted playdough colours, cutters and rolling pin: enjoy hours of fun manipulating the playdough, developing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
This is one resources package that you can keep.
Nursery rhyme CD: Have fun listening and singing along to the nursery rhymes on this CD. This will help your child to develop a sense of rhythm and ultimately help with their literacy skills.
Number songs and number fan: This CD and fan will help to develop your child’s sense of number in a fun and visual way.
Number bag: This bag contains a selection of number and counting games to help your child develop their mathematical skills in the area of numbers and counting.
Shape bag: This bag contains a selection of shape and colour resources to help develop children’s knowledge of shapes and colour.
Farmyard dominoes: This game features friendly farmyard animals which your child will love! Children take a turn to match the familiar animals to make a long domino line. It encourages matching and memory skills.
Nature bag: This bag contains a variety of resources to help you child to make sense of the world around them. It is based on the popular book ‘The very hungry caterpillar’ and contains a magnifying glass so that you can go on a bug hunt in your garden.
Farmyard bag: Here is a collection of games, books and a CD to inspire chat about the environment…especially locally where farming is everywhere!
The very hungry caterpillar DVD: Watch this wonderful story and others for a fun loving insight to the world around us.
Insect bag: This bag includes a simple counting and shape game and books about insects.
The wheels on the bus CD: This CD contains 26 much loved rhymes and songs. This will help your child to develop a sense of rhythm and ultimately help with their literacy skills.
Sheep bag: This bag contains a variety of resources based on sheep, including some props to support the story.
Big aeroplane puzzle: Unless you have a large table this is one for the floor! What better way to encourage play and imagination whilst developing fine motor skills.
Transport bag: Here we have a collection of resources that explore transport and encourage imaginative play.
Buildings: This bag consists of construction resources that are used to support the story ‘The three little pigs’. There is also an information book where you can explore the various structures that people live in around the world.
Animals: Here we have a selection of resources that explore the world of animals. There is a CD with nursery rhymes and a game.
Twinkle, twinkle: This is a lovely collection of resources based on stars and nigh time accompanied by an information book and the story ‘My little star’.
Active pack: Here we have a collection of fun physical activities and a CD to help you along.
Space alien bingo: Here we have a fun 3 in 1 board game to help your child explore the world of colour and shape.
Shape bag: Here we have a selection of resources to allow children to explore shape and colour using interactive cards and an information book.
Babies: A selection of resources to explore animals and their young with a board game where you match mothers and their young.
Ducks number matching game: This is a lovely game created by Dawn that allows your child to match numbers whilst having fun.
Shopping bag: Here we have a selection of food, a game, songs and rhymes CD and a story book. Your child will develop good memory and observational skills.
Music bag: Here you get to explore sounds and music and can explore rhythm and develop listening and attention skills.
Rhyming game: This is an interlocking puzzle which will help your child to learn short and long vowel rhyming words by matching photo pairs.
Wash my pants: Be the first to collect nine pairs of clean pants. Explore patterns and colours in this fun game.
This Gruffalo match and memory game: Walk through the dark forest with this simple match and memory board game.
Caterpillar race: Create your own unique multi-coloured caterpillar and race to victory in this exciting game.
Find the rhyme: This fun rhyming puzzle is great for stimulating the brain, inspiring story making, develop early language skills, encourage enjoyment of words and rhymes, developing social skills and helping communication and building confidence and concentration.
Insey winsey spider: Learn about counting and shapes as you move the spider up and down the drain pipe.
Shopping list game: This game encourages memory and literacy skills.
Picture pairs: Match the cards and chat about the pictures on the cards.
Pre-school Learning Alliance ‘Play cards for the home environment’ cards. These cards provide great ideas that you can do at home with your child. Cards include: music making, relaxing, adventuring, splashing and story telling.
Simple Tape Measure.This tape measure introduces children to metric and imperial lengths. A colourful, modern, chunky design that encourages numeracy skills and measurement. Comfort grip and reeling mechanism ideal for small hands.
Metal detector.This will provide a great deal of fun investigating your garden. The detector beeps when metal is detected and will encourage children to identify the differences in the items they discover.
Number ducks.Each duck has dots on its back that correspond to the matching number on its tummy. The ducks are numbered 1-10 and will encourage number recognition as well as counting and will provide endless fun in the bath or paddling pool.
Numbered ice pops.Each ice cream has a shell that has the corresponding number to match the dots on it. 1-10. This is a fun way to get your child counting and matching.
Tactile letters.These are great for sensory letter recognition and formation.
This resource is for children who will be starting school soon and may not be appropriate for your child. Please ask your child's key-worker for advice.
Gears.This is great for all of those budding young engineers out there! You can create colourful, imaginative and moving models whilst developing problem-solving and fine motor skills.
Be careful as some pieces may pose a choking hazard.
We were grateful to receive funding from the 'Talking Together in Cambridgeshire' project along with five other settings locally. Some of the money we were awarded went towards replenishing resources to boost our 'Home Learning' service.
Talking Together in Cambridgeshire' is Cambridgeshire's community literacy project, which aims to enable children across the project reach areas to develop strong communication, language and literacy skills, and to inspire families to become more involved in their children's development.
Parson Drove Pre-School
c/o Alderman Payne Primary School