Staff at Crumpsall Park Day Care in Manchester have taken part in our HELLO project to help strengthen the relationships they have with parents, in order to improve the language skills of children who attend the playgroup.
The Helping Early Language and Literacy Outcomes (HELLO) improvement framework is a quality improvement tool for early years settings who want to improve their communication, language and literacy provision. The National Literacy Trust delivered training and support in the use of HELLO to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority who are working to raise the levels of speech, language and communication amongst local pre-school children through the Greater Manchester SLCN pathway.
Following on from staff training, Crumpsall Park Day Care used the HELLO tool to identify a disconnect in the relationships between parents and practitioners, and so used the resources from the project to strengthen provision in this area. 80% of the families have English as an additional language, so making sure information is communicated in an accessible way to all parents can be a challenge for the staff.
The staff set out to better the ways in which they exchange information with parents and encourage them to observe and get involved in their home-based activities to support their child’s communication, language and literacy.
At the start of the project, the playgroup used a screening tool called Wellcomm to assess the language and communication skills of 36 children, and the results indicated that further support for parents was needed in order to develop these areas based on the level of language and communication the Wellcomm screening indicated for each child. Staff wanted to better the Wellcomm results for the class by encouraging at least 50% of parents to get involved in home learning activities and by feeding their observations back once a week via a ‘WOW Moments Tree’ that the staff established in the playgroup entrance. This tree was a way of showing and celebrating lots of small, positive observations parents made at home, as they were encouraged to jot down things their child communicated and did that were ‘WOW moments’ for them on a paper leaf and add it to the tree.
In addition to this, during drop off and pick up, practitioners modelled activities and gave them to parents to take home to do with their child. Examples of ‘WOW moments’ were given to show parents the things to look or listen out for when carrying out these activities at home and how to record their findings on their leaf.
After three months, the staff re-screened the children using WellComm and improvements were indicated through the traffic light scoring system (where green means no intervention is currently required, amber means extra support and intervention is required, and red means consider referral to a specialist speech and language service): 75% of children moved up a colour section completely, with 30% of children moving from Amber to Green. Although some children who speak English as a second language hadn’t quite reached the ideal level of development in language and communication, they still showed huge progression within the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile, which the staff were delighted with.
Joanne Dalton, Manager of Crumpsall Park Day Care, said: “Using HELLO has helped us communicate with parents in a simple but effective way. It has developed our understanding of children’s development at home as well as the nursery environment. In turn this has improved the results on our WellComm screenings and assessments and promoted parental engagement. As a result of this project we will continue to work with parents on a weekly basis both formally and informally and plan to arrange sessions with parents to demonstrate move visual activities for them to continue to support their child in their home environment. In the meantime we will continue to support children’s language, communication and literacy to the best of our ability and use our WOW tree to communicate skills and development with our parents and families.”
Crumpsall Park Day care Centre plans to use the HELLO framework annually to continue to develop and evaluate their speech, language and communication provision.