Early Words Together helps three-year-old Maruf overcome his speech delay

EWT Children' house

Before three-year-old Maruf started nursery, he had a visit at home from a key worker. The key worker noticed that Maruf had a significant speech and language delay and was very shy, so she completed a cause for concern form which was given to the Head Teacher at the nursery. Maruf was put on the Special Educational Needs (SEN) register.

After Maruf’s first two weeks at Children’s House Nursery School in Tower Hamlets, London, an assessment was carried out in partnership with his parents. Maruf’s was a year behind where he should be, scoring particularly low in communication and language skills. The nursery put several interventions in place to support Maruf’s needs. Whilst Maruf made rapid progress in the next seven weeks, he was still below the level of development expected for his age.

At this point, the National Literacy Trust started to run its Early Words Together programme at the nursery. The programme trains nursery staff and volunteers to help teach parents the skills they need to support their child’s language development at home. Parents attend six weekly sessions at the nursery with their children.

The nursery asked Aniqa to take part in the Early Words Together sessions, but she was very reluctant. She was shy and lacking in confidence. Aniqa later disclosed that she didn’t want to go to the sessions because she couldn’t read. Once the programme was explained properly to her, she agreed to take part.

The volunteer supporting Aniqa saw a transformation in her confidence from the very first week. As the programme continued, Aniqa’s regularly asked staff questions about Maruf’s learning and development. She attended all six Early Words Together sessions – a real achievement given how disengaged Aniqa has previously been with the nursery.  

Maruf’s progress means that he is now at the expected level of development for his age and no longer on the SEN register. His teachers have also seen a real boost in his confidence.

Aniqa said: “This has been a life changing course for me. As I cannot read English I find it very embarrassing to attend any course and I am always worried that I will be put on the spot. I loved this course as I had support from my volunteers and learnt so much about sharing books. I never knew that I could re-tell stories by using props and looking at pictures.”

Maruf is enjoying the time he is spending with him mother outside of nursery: “I liked going to the library with my mum.”

*All names have been changed to maintain confidentiality.

Pearson funded the National Literacy Trust to deliver Early Words Together in Children’s House Nursery School in Tower Hamlets, London, from September 2015 to May 2016.