Recent reports that children are beginning school without knowing their own name demonstrate not just the importance of good parenting, but the wider help and support that young children need in the crucial early years of their life.
Experiences in the first five years of a child’s life have the biggest impact on how their brain develops. It’s when children grasp the fundamental skills they need to do well at school and develop as happy, confident individuals. The Government wants a system where every child can thrive, regardless of their social background. That’s why the Department has recently announced a series of measures to support parents and improve early years education so that children are ready and able to learn at school.
A new early years curriculum for 0-5-year-olds will be introduced next year which focuses on three prime areas of learning that are critical to making sure children develop healthily and happily. It will form the foundations on which children can master the basic skills at school as well as the resilience, confidence and personal skills to be able to learn. It will also give professionals more freedom in how they work with children, and involve parents more in their child’s learning. Research shows that parental interest in their child’s education has four times more influence on attainment by age 16 than socio-economic background.
Parents will get much clearer information on how their children are doing with the introduction of a new progress check for every two-year-old in early education. Parents and professionals can be confident children are developing well and any problems will be picked up early.
Action the Government is taking to help parents ensure their children are school ready includes:
- A new focus on three prime areas of learning in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) so children are ready and able to learn at school. These are: personal, social and emotional development, physical development and communication and language.
- A slimmed down EYFS, more closely aligned with Key Stage 1 to smooth the transition from reception class to Year 1.
- All early years settings to provide a new check for every two-year-old to pick up early any problems in a child’s development or special educational needs.
- Children’s centres to have a stronger focus on school readiness and supporting families.
- Early years qualifications are to be reviewed to make sure they are sufficiently rigorous and high quality - a highly skilled, graduate-led workforce is crucial to making sure children develop well and are ready for school.
- A new website, Families in the Foundation Years, sets out in one place what every mother and father need to know to help their child develop well, stay healthy and be ready for school, from pregnancy right through to when their child is five. Parents will be able to find information on ante-natal classes, flexible working and childcare in their area.