No learning at home for 100K under-5s, DfE research finds

And almost half of parents surveyed did not spend time teaching children the alphabet, research reveals

Tes Reporter

Around 100,000 children under five do not practice learning before starting school

About 100,000 children under the age of 5 have never practised learning at home with their parents, a survey has suggested.

The Department for Education poll of 2,685 parents of children aged 5 or younger found almost a third (31 per cent) of their children did not read with someone at home daily.

Only around half spent time learning the alphabet or recognising words (51 per cent), counting or learning numbers (58 per cent), or learning songs, poems or nursery rhymes (59 per cent) daily.

Quick read: Phone apps could improve reading

Quick read: DfE wants to halve numbers starting school unable to read

Background: Forming relationships with parents in early years

Children and families minister Nadhim Zahawi said: "We want to create a generation of confident learners – and parents are a child's first and best teacher, helping to get them talking and communicating before they reach the classroom.

"You don't need expensive books or toys to help children develop literacy skills. It can be as simple as reading a library book together or making up your own stories – little interactions can have a huge impact."

Earlier this year, the DfE announced plans to pay for subscriptions to early learning apps for disadvantaged families.

Education secretary Damian Hinds said that families would be given free access to educational apps for smartphones and tablets, so that children could benefit from positive screen time.

Last summer the DfE launched a competition to identify which apps were the best at helping with children’s early education at home.

The Childcare and Early Years Survey of Parents 2017 found that 2.4 per cent of children aged 0-5 in England had never practised any learning activities at home, equating to more than 100,000 children.

Mr Zahawi added: "Children from lower-income families are more likely to fall behind at school compared to their peers and, once you're behind, it's hard to catch up.

"That's why we are launching a major new campaign later this year to help parents incorporate Chat, Play and Read into their daily life, putting their children on track to succeed."

The department has partnered with the National Literacy Trust, a charity that offers free advice and information to help parents make practical changes to their relationship with their children, to promote the Chat, Play and Read campaign.

Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, said: "Changing the course of a child's life story doesn't begin on their first day of school but on their first day of life. And it starts with small talk.

"Every seemingly small interaction between a parent and a child is a great opportunity to fill that child's world with words: bath time can be a great time to sing a song together, bus journeys can provide opportunities to talk about what you see around you, and a trip to the library will enable you to choose a book to take home and share together."

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