Five local nursery schools have introduced an innovative new programme designed to help pupils develop their speech and language skills.
The Public Health Agency-funded Early Talk Boost programme is being piloted in the Barbour, St Aloysius, Holy Trinity, Pond Park and Old Warren nurseries.
Designed to help language delayed children aged 3 - 4 years make progress with their language and communication skills, Early Talk Boost is delivered by a trained early years practitioner.
The initiative has already been shown to lead to significant progress in children’s early language by an average of six months after a nine week intervention.
The local pilot project was made possible by the Early Intervention Lisburn Partnership, led by the Resurgam Trust, by identifying speech and language development as a priority in Lisburn. The Early Intervention Lisburn Project was initiated by the Resurgam Trust in 2011 to improve outcomes for children, young people and families in deprived areas.
Adrian Bird, Director of the Resurgam Trust, said: “Research carried out in 2013 in primary schools in Lisburn highlighted that 32 per cent of our children were entering primary school with a mild to moderate speech and language problem. We have worked closely with the SEHSCT Speech & Language department and agreed that these programmes were the best approach to help improve this shocking statistic in Lisburn.”
Research shows that early language skills, in particular vocabulary, are a key indicator of academic success. Without core skills in speech, language and communication young children will not be ready to start school, to make friends and to develop their self-esteem.
Gail Malmo, Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Manager with the Public Health Agency in the South Eastern area, said: “Early intervention is a priority for the PHA and we recognise that speech and language is the most important skill children will learn during their early schooling and has far-reaching implications for life-long confidence and wellbeing.”
Catherine Milne, principal of St Aloysius Primary School, added: “We are committed to supporting our children’s speech and language development, which is why I was really keen that our school take part in the pilot.
“Early Talk Boost will now form part of our practice and we expect that it will prepare children for school and help them become more confident communicators.”