A new parenting campaign launches today in Great Yarmouth to encourage parents to interact more with their children to help them gain key numeracy and literacy skills and reach the same level as more advantaged youngsters

Over the next five months the Social Mobility Commission’s new initiative - It’s Child’s Play – will show parents how they can make a difference by playing, reading, writing, counting and chatting with their youngest children.

Targeted towards parents with children who are pre-school age in low-income areas, it will present key resources and easy ways of engaging with children to help get them school ready, with the aim to ensure youngsters reach the same level as their peers when they start primary school.

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The campaign will involve posters, targeted mail drops, advertising and social media promoting simple developmental exercises such as counting, reading aloud and spotting different colours and shapes. 

Great Yarmouth Mercury: Parents will be encouraged to play with their children Picture: PAParents will be encouraged to play with their children Picture: PA (Image: PA)

The materials will be shared locally by libraries, GP surgeries, shops, food banks and other community outlets and organisations.

Research shows that disadvantaged children start school developmentally on average 4.5 months behind others and leave school just over 18 months behind their peers.

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The scheme is being run as a pilot in Great Yarmouth, Middlesbrough and Blackpool until February, with a plan to run it nationally later in 2024.

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Campaign commissioner Tina Stowell said: “Even the simplest parent-child interactions in the early years can shape a child’s growth, development and ultimately life course.

"Our campaign aims to show all parents how they can give their children a head start before school by encouraging free, fun and simple activities like talking, playing, counting and reading.

“Talking helps children make sense of the world around them, playing can help a child improve their understanding of shapes and names, and reading - which doesn’t have to be books but could be any words around you - is linked to improving emotional skills, as well as language and numeracy skills.”

Visit socialmobility.independent-commission.uk/itschildsplay/