One in four children across Cornwall are leaving their reception class without the key communication skills to succeed in life, according to new figures.
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 such as catching a bus or doing the shopping.
Across the UK almost 72 per cent of under-fives achieved expected levels of development in their language skills. In Cornwall that figure is lower at 70.1 per cent.
The Hungry Little Minds campaign aims to 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.
Cornwall Council’s cabinet member for Children, Wellbeing and Public Health Sally Hawken said: “Eighty-five per cent 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 everyday 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.
Cllr Hawken 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.”
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.