Friday 30 September 2016

“I’m In Big School Now And It’s Great” …

Published 27/11/2015 | 15:31

Help Children Like Leah Reach Their Full Potential

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“What happens after the age of 5 depends on what happens before it” ...

National College of Ireland wants to close the gap between richer and poorer children as they progress through the education system and have called on the public to help.

Watch this short video released by NCI on the ground-breaking work of its Early Learning Initiative, which champions work with children and families from newborns up. 

From its campus on Mayor Street in the IFSC, National College of Ireland rolled out this project to improve educational outcomes for children. The initiative helps children three years before they are due to start their free pre-school year by supporting parents in encouraging their children’s learning.

They offer training and support families and educators with a series of programmes and activities to develop children’s literacy, numeracy and oral language. The Parent Child Home Visitor Programme is an evidence-based and research validated initiative that has been running in the U.S. for more than 50 years.

In Dublin, the Early Learning Initiative has successfully been running the programme for the last nine years and initial research findings are very encouraging:  educationally disadvantaged children are now entering school and scoring above the norms of other middle class schools in English and Maths, parents are more engaged in their children’s development and learning is being perceived by children, young people and their extended families as enjoyable and something to be shared.

“I’m Ok”

Leah Martin, one of the children who has been thriving since she started ‘big school’ following on from the programme and is now a proud ambassador puts it best:  “If you haven’t learned your ABCs or 123s how do you know what’s going on?  That’s not what happened to me.  I’m ok.”

“The ELI helped Mum and Dad help me.  They got them to read to me and teach me numbers – even big ones.  I’m in big school now and it’s great.  ELI works with families so people like me don’t get left behind”. 

Leah is just one of the children growing up in Dublin’s inner city who has been helped by one of 24 home visitors trained and employed by the National College of Ireland.  In addition to building up her confidence and self-esteem, it has given her a love of books and learning, which she is passing on to her younger siblings.

Dr Josephine Bleach, director of the Early Learning Initiative at NCI, said: “At three years of age, there are already big differences in language and mathematical development between children from rich and poor backgrounds. This gap continues to widen, if it is not addressed before children start pre-school. 90% of brain growth happens before the age of 5; therefore, sadly without early intervention, generations of children’s life chances have been determined before their very first day of school.”

How You Can Help

The Early Learning Initiative is calling for donations to help expand the programme to other disadvantaged areas across the country. Your donation will help thousands more children before it’s too late - because what happens after the age of five depends on what happens before it.

What €10 - €20 Can Do

Just €10 could pay for a book and toy used by a Home Visitor when visiting a family.  €20 could help provide a numeracy pack for use in creches, schools, after-schools and local libraries.

Visit www.ncirl.ie/eli or call 1850 221 721 to donate or learn more.

 

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