The aim of School Start was to target children starting school who needed to make up for time missed in early years settings due to the lockdowns.
We approached early years settings, Health visitors and some schools for referrals. Thanks to funding from West Somerset Opportunity Area we were able to focus on individual families, helping them to develop and enhance their child’s early learning. We visited Williton, Dulverton and Minehead taking resources and activities specifically suited to the area of child development that we were focussing on for each family. We worked across the second half of the summer term. Due to demand we also took on families with children starting in early years settings.
We were struck by how different each child’s needs were, but also how communication was an issue. Families appreciated the chance to get out of the house. A real break from lockdown for them all.
So we gave targeted advice and support to parents to help prepare their children for school and their early years setting. Parents watched us putting the advice into practice and then had a go themselves, with support from us. This was most welcomed. In two instances we liaised with early years/school SENCOs to best support children in their transitions.
Every single family invited to School Start completed School Start.
Each family had a home visit when they finished. During the visit they were given the advice and resources they needed to carry on activities at home to prepare their child for school/early years.
Most surprising of all was the impact on parental self esteem. Several parents hadn’t been anywhere during lockdown and the chance to chat to other adults over a cuppa was most appreciated. We spoke to all parents about plans after lockdown and encouraged those who were thinking about accessing employment or training. Since completing School Start: one parent has returned to work, four parents have started new jobs and two are accessing training.
This was a lovely project with fantastic results – every child who attended made progress and we hope to continue next year.
Very good! I liked the puzzles best!Feedback from the children
We all enjoyed the sessions. B loved the one to one attention. B pretends to do the jumping on coloured spots activity at home.Feedback from a parent
The volunteers were fantastic, they are making such a difference, bringing energy and great fun. They are a real asset to your families.Feedback from Rebecca Polsom, St Peter’s Nursery Manager