A campaign has been launched to increase language skills in under 5s

One in four children across Cornwall is leaving their reception class without the key communication skills to succeed in life.  The data has been revealed at the launch of the ‘Hungry Little Minds’ campaign, a government initiative to support children's learning at home, or as part of everyday activities like catching the bus or doing the shopping.

Across the UK almost 72 percent of under-fives achieved expected levels of development in their language skills, in Cornwall that figure is lower at 70.1%.  The Hungry Little Minds campaign will help improve this by tackling the barriers some parents face in supporting their child’s learning at home, including time, confidence and ideas of things to do.

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Cabinet Member for Children, Wellbeing and Public Health, Sally Hawken, said: “85% of a child’s brain is developed by age five, which shows just how important the early years are.  This campaign is designed to get parents and carers talking to their children and gives ideas on games to play.

“We understand that some parents may have some barriers themselves, but this campaign is about making every day things into a learning experience.”

Evidence suggests that children who start school with more advanced language skills fare better in learning to read successfully. As the child moves through the school, vocabulary at age five is a very strong predictor of the qualifications achieved at school leaving age and beyond.

Sally continued: “It’s not just about better language skills. Talking with babies helps their brains develop and can help children do better at school when they’re older.

“Talking with babies and toddlers doesn’t have to be a big deal. You can start by talking about everyday things in your home and family life – just whatever you’re doing with your baby at the time.”

One easy win is a bedtime story; parents reading at the end of the day has been shown to support a creative young mind, building better relationships and enabling quality time together. 

Head of Early Years at Cornwall Council, Carol Kimberley, said: “Every parent wants to give their child the best start in life but not everyone feels confident enough to read with their child.  What I really like about this campaign is the simplicity – Fun games and interactions that anyone can take part in.”

The Hungry Little Minds campaign will form part of a Cornwall wide project, which will be launched in September.

For more information on Hungry Little Minds, please visit: https://hungrylittleminds.campaign.gov.uk/