Assessing Changes in Preschoolers’ Home Learning Environment Following the Early Words Together Programme

This project aims to address a lack of research around how to support disadvantaged families in improving children's literacy through the home learning environment (HLE).

Children’s literacy development begins long before they go to school, with parents and the home environment exerting important influences on the development of children’s language skills. Given the influence of children’s language development on their literacy skills and later educational achievement, it is crucial to understand how the HLE can be harnessed to promote changes in children’s language.

The National Literacy Trust’s Early Words Together is an early years parent and child engagement programme that encourages parents to adopt activities that have been shown to improve the HLE. It is particularly successful in recruiting at risk families, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and has been shown to impact on children’s language and literacy skills. However, the programme has not been rigorously evaluated by a randomised controlled trial (RCT).

The researchers will conduct a pilot RCT to assess the impact of the programme on the language acquisition of children living in deprived areas. The secondary goals of the study are to gain a more in-depth understanding of which home-based activities and behaviours are most likely to be improved and sustained following participation in a family literacy programme; what barriers to change exist; and which characteristics help to support a positive HLE.

Project Details