At Foundry Lane Community Playgroup, we are part of the ECaT project that has been running in Southampton since 2009. The aims of the project are:

* To improve the speech, language and communication skills (SLC) of all young children

* To develop the knowledge and skills of all practitioners about the development of SLC, so they can support children to make progress without necessarily referring them to the Speech and Language Therapy team

* To inform and guide parents about SLC development, so that with the support of knowledgeable professionals, they can best promote their children’s language skills at home

The ECaT project is delivered by a local Speech and Language Therapist and the Early Years Advisory Teachers in the city, supported by the wider development team and the local Speech Therapy team.

By regularly monitoring how your child’s communication and language skills are developing, the playgroup staff are able to identify specific areas they may need to work on, which they also ask parents and carers to support at home. This monitoring creates anonymous data which the Local Authority uses to inform how services are designed and delivered in Southampton.

Staff track your child’s communication development over time, from preschool and when the time comes, pass this information onto school. This enables staff, who work with your child, to plan activities to promote their communication skills as part of their wider programme of learning in preschool and school. This information will help identify children who need additional support and by tracking a child over time it will enable the right support to be given at the right time, to maximise your child’s learning and progress.

This information will be transferred and stored securely in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.

What you can do at home to support ECaT

Talk and Play every day!

Children learn from your talk:

* Tell your child what is happening

* Add gestures and visuals

* Listen and repeat

* Keep it short


Children learn through play:

* Parents are the best toy

* Learn through having fun

* Always get down to the child’s level

* Your child leads the play

Play is an essential part of a child’s overall development. Play is as important as good nutrition, warmth and protection. Young children learn language through interactions with their parents, other family members and other children.

Play supports behaviour: parent-child play shows your child that you are interested in them and gives them positive attention which helps to build their self-esteem. Parent-child play allows a child to receive positive attention for things you want to encourage e.g. ‘good sharing’ rather than learning that if you misbehave you get attention.

Play supports thinking skills: playing helps a child to solve problems, test out ideas and explore their imagination.

Play supports language development: play is an ideal moment for a child to hear the words that match what they are doing and the toys they are using e.g. ‘you’re building a tower’.