Every Word Counts

January 13, 2017 by admin in

We believe strongly that research-based assessment and intervention can have a significant impact on a child’s chances to succeed in areas of social, emotional and educational well being. However, we cannot ignore the powerful research on PREVENTION. At Words First, we understand that the most significant contributor to a child’s life is his / her caregivers. Our unique programme that aims to PREVENT language and literacy difficulties before they manifest in Reception and Year 1, is called the Every Words Counts initiative. Please feel free to learn more about EWC here.

The EWC initiative is a low cost, evidence based approach aimed at harnessing parent’s most natural tool – language. It is founded on the ‘power of words’ – the power of words to create chances for children to make the most of their lives and the power or words to change lives. Although there is a wealth of research that supports our belief, we experience the power of words every day in our schools. Children who have a large vocabulary, whether they have literacy difficulties or not, are more likely to do well at school than their peers with limited vocabulary.

The seminal work of Hart and Risely (1995), highlighted the gap in children’s early experience of words. By the age of 3, children from welfare families had heard 30 million words LESS than children from professional families. Regardless of income, however, this is a significant difference. The progression of these children was remarkable as children who had heard more words, were more likely to do well at school and get good jobs. A study called ‘Bucking the Trend’ demonstrated how children who escape poverty are more likely to have larger vocabularies than their peers.

At Words First, we noticed that some children came into Reception and Year 1 with limited language experience. This means they start their education ‘on the back foot’ – behind their peers, already struggling to cope. This limited exposure to words and language seems to impact each child’s reading and language circuit in different ways, but all seem to have difficulty keeping up with the pace of mainstream lessons. The bad news is, that many of these children, continue to struggle and without the right support, they battle to achieve academic expectations and in some cases they become despondent, disruptive and disengaged from education.

This led us at Words First, to think hard about the problem we were seeing in Reception, Year 1 and Primary. The research tells us that the problem can and should be addressed BEFORE a child gets into education. Therefore, PARENTS / caregivers are in fact the most powerful predictor of a child’s success in school. Our response to this has been to set up the EVERY WORD COUNTS initiative which aims to harness the power of talk to improve the chances of all children. This low cost initiative will be offered to early years settings, children’s centres, antenatal groups, social services and many more where we will work WITH parents to make them understand how powerful they are.

‘There is nothing as powerful as parents who know how powerful they are!”