Early Words Together is a six week intervention that brings practitioners and peer volunteers together to enable families to improve the home learning environment and communication, language and literacy of children aged two to five.
Here we share two external evaluations of a two-year pilot funded by the Department for Education (DfE) to run in 13 local authorities across England between April 2013 and March 2015. The evaluations found positive impacts on local authority stakeholders, children’s enjoyment of literacy behaviours and home learning environments.
OPM considered the impact of the intervention on children’s centre practice, referral working and the role of volunteers. They found the programme was very positively received by local authority stakeholders. The overall response from staff and volunteers was enthusiastic and the programme was felt to be impactful for settings, volunteers and – in particular – families. Findings showed that the programme was embraced as a new vehicle for supporting families to build better home learning environments.
Coventry University’s Centre for Research in Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement examined the impact of the programme on children, families and the home learning environment. Findings showed that Early Words Together significantly improved children’s understanding of spoken language, increased their enjoyment of literacy behaviours and enhanced their home learning environments.
An average of 120 children’s centres and early years settings delivered the programme over the evaluation period, involving nearly 1,000 volunteers and 1,850 parents.