Just recently, the Early Learning Initiative at National College of Ireland launched its new Parent Child Home Programme (PCHP). Many of the programme’s “points” are similar to the home-work the parents of severely to profoundly deaf children need to do, to develop their child’s language as early in life as possible.
Based on a programme started in the US, the PCHP is a “learning through play experience” geared to pre-school children and their parents.
The programme is designed to strengthen the bond between young children and their parents while encouraging children to prepare for starting school.
In every situation, the parent is seen as the child’s first and best teacher. A home visitor employed and trained by PCHP visits the family twice per week for two half-hour sessions.
During this time the visitor interacts with the child while the parent observes. The child is given suitable books and toys based on their stage and needs.
A new book or toy is introduced every week. In some cases, the child may not like the new toy or book, but doesn’t lose interest due to having options.
When a parent encourages and praises their child, the child’s confidence grows. In school, reading is often seen as something a child must do. This programme aims to make reading and learning a fun experience for a child.
The PCHP website has lots of tips on how to make learning fun. These can be used in any family situation, regardless of childrens’ hearing abilities.
1. A parent should begin reading with a child very early on, before the child can even talk or sit up. This early introduction helps later learning.
2. A parent should read to a child every day even just for a few minutes. If you enjoy learning and interacting with your child, they will enjoy it too.
3.Make sure that there are lots of reading materials around the house. If a child sees you reading they will want to join in.
4. Cut down on TV time and give your child some paper and crayons to write on.
5. Finally and most importantly, talk to your child. The more words the child hears, the more chance they have to be a good reader and happy student.
In the Dublin area 46 children are participating in this programme, which is funded by local business. Beth Fagan of the Early Learning Initiative says, “If children are equipped with pre-literacy and numeracy skills before school-age they have a greater chance of success right through school.”
Individuals or community representatives who are interested in the PCHP can contact Beth Fagan at The Early Learning Initiative, National College of Ireland, Dublin 1, 01-4498627, www.ncirl.ie/eli or e-mail: bfagan<at>ncirl.ie
(compiled by Miriam Walsh)