A wonderful gift for children in Wales

Published on: 11 January 2019 Author: Jan Mills

Education consultant and former Foundation Phase Lead Officer for City and County of Swansea, Jan Mills, explains why she’s excited about our new Nursery programme in Wales. The programme launches on Monday 14th January.

It’s time for the launch of the Pori Drwy Stori Nursery programme and I couldn’t be more excited! I have been privileged, as an independent consultant, to speak to nursery practitioners, parents and carers about their use of the resources during the pilot phase of the programme and have been bowled over by their positive responses and hearing their stories and accounts of how well the children have responded.Illustration of teacher reading with children by kate Alizadeh

Thumbs up from parents and carers!

Mums and Dads spoke of their child’s enthusiasm to engage in rhymes and songs and to have fun with the playful activities in ‘It’s Time to Rhyme’, and also of their child’s excitement in bringing home their own copy of the books in ‘Book Talk’.

Many parents were surprised at how quickly their child picked up the rhymes and observed that they were able to incorporate them easily into daily routines at home or when out and about. Notably they reported how much their child enjoyed and had fun with the rhymes and that taking part in the programme had not only increased their child’s knowledge of rhymes but also increased their own.

The books in ‘Book Talk’ proved engaging and fun for the children with parents/ carers stating that their child wanted them read ‘over and over again’. This familiarity with the books increased their child’s pleasure in the stories, enabling them to ‘join in’ especially where the books had rhyme. They talked about the pictures, predicted what was coming next, talked about the characters in the stories and even picked up some welsh vocabulary from the bilingual book. The suggested activities encouraged playful activities around the story and parents/carers reported that this also led to the books being read more often and at varying times of the day.

Illustration of child and adult reading by Kate Alizadeh

The shared experience of the children and families, all being involved in the programme at the same time, created a ‘buzz’ of excitement between parents/carers at drop-off and collection time, with many families using the chosen social media of the Nursery to comment on activities they had tried with their child at home. This seems to have had a ‘knock-on effect’, with settings displaying photographs or items sent in from home that children had made, which in turn encouraged other parents and carers to ‘have a go’ and it became obvious that the more fun the children and families were having with the resources the more engaged everyone became.

Green light from practitioners!

Teachers and practitioners valued the learning focus of the programme being around oracy, encouraging the children’s speaking and listening skills. They also commented on the significance of the resources in supporting and strengthening links between the home and Nursery.

They also spoke about children’s increased knowledge of rhymes, concepts relating to rhyme and improved children’s confidence to join in with rhymes and stories. They felt taking part in the pilot had encouraged children to talk more about books, particularly the ‘Book Talk’ books, and for some more reluctant children, the familiarity of the books had enhanced interest, listening and attention. Some practitioners stated, 'They became the most used books in the setting!'

Practitioners welcomed the programme as they felt it reinforced existing priorities relating to oracy, fitted well with Foundation Phase requirements and successfully supported good practice, especially in relation to parental engagement.

What a gift!

As an Early Years specialist I feel passionate about the use of rhymes as a fun and easy way for young children to acquire language skills. Rhymes can help develop memory, introduce new vocabulary and the rhythm and patterns of language; they encourage exposure to sounds and the development of listening skills and in turn help children to develop confidence to use language. Not forgetting the fun you can have with number and counting rhymes!

I also value the role of family and know how important it is to support and encourage parent/carers’ in the positive role they can play in their child’s learning.

Pori Drwy Stori Nursery is a wonderful gift for children, families and practitioners, inspiring children to develop a love of books, stories and rhymes.

… So you can see why I feel excited about the launch of this programme!

Jan Mills is an Early Years specialist and an independent education consultant. She was the foundation Phase Advisor for Swansea and has been involved in Pori Drwy Stori for many years. In 2018, she evaluated the pilot of the new Nursery programme.

Find out more about the Pori Drwy Stori Nursery progamme

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