Hundreds of parents in Bury will receive support to help their children learn through play.
A major programme called Parents Who Play has been launched in the borough, thanks to a grant of more than £50,000 from education charity SHINE.
Over three years, Parents Who Play will help the parents of more than 400 early years children through a mixture of workshops and ‘stay-and-play’ sessions.
Parents will develop an understanding of how young children learn and how play is a key ingredient in the development of their child. They will also be provided with a host of resources and ideas that can be used at home to support their child’s learning.
The project will focus on reading, writing and maths, and it is hoped that it will help the children to succeed academically at school.
Parents Who Play is the brainchild of staff at East Ward Community Primary School, where the programme will be piloted, before it is extended to the two other schools that make up the Vision Multi-Academy Trust – Sunny Bank Primary School in Bury and Higher Lane Primary School in Whitefield.
Laura Jarvis, assistant headteacher at East Ward, said: “Play lays the foundations for education, research shows that the more parents engage with their child’s learning, particularly in the early stages, the better the chance of academic success in the future.
“A survey identified that early reading is the area parents feel the least confident with so the quicker we can provide support with this, the more impact we will see.”
The project will run for eight weeks each term, alternating between a workshop session for parents and a stay-and-play session where staff model the aspects from the previous week’s workshop and the parents have a chance to implement what they have learnt.
Workshops will include fun activities such as a ‘dough disco’, which combines the use of play dough with a series of hand and finger exercises designed to improve fine muscle control, which supports children’s handwriting skills.
At present, a third of children at the East Ward begin the early years, below the expected level for their age. It is hoped the new project will increase the percentage of children achieving good level of development (GLD) by the end of the early years.
Laura said: “Teaching parents about how children in early years learn through play and in-the-moment activities will allow us to break down barriers, build up their confidence and positively impact on their child’s behaviour for learning and academic success.
“We are delighted to receive the funding from SHINE. We are over the moon after all the hard work that went into the bid.
“It is amazing because it allows us to support our parents and our youngest children. It is vital that we get our children off to a flying start to ensure they have the best possible opportunity to succeed at the end of their early years education.”
David Waites, headteacher at East Ward and executive headteacher of Vision Multi-Academy Trust, said: “The support of SHINE will make a massive difference to the families and children in our school. The project, which focusses on our parent partnership alongside understanding the importance of play at home in the early years, has been an area that we have identified as a priority and the funding will allow us to address this key issue in school, for the benefit of our community.”
Dr Helen Rafferty, Interim CEO of SHINE said: “SHINE is delighted to be supporting this important and engaging work in Bury, and we can’t wait to see the impact on the children and families involved.
“We know that children learn so much through play, and that when parents and schools together children get the very best experience in the early years, and we look forward to hearing about the progress and expansion of the programme.”