FAST: seeing the difference the programme makes
Children need support from their family and school to help with their education.
However, some families in the UK don’t have the money, skills or confidence to help their children have the best start in life.
As a Families and Schools Together (FAST) volunteer I have seen how Save the Children’s FAST programme brings together families, school staff and communities in the most deprived areas, to give children the support they need to shine.
Giving children the confidence to learn
Over the past four weeks I have noticed a huge difference in children’s self-esteem in our FAST group. At the start, many of the children felt shy playing with their parents and wouldn’t talk to the FAST team.
Now, if they don’t understand something they will readily ask their parents, and proudly tell me what activities they have done with their family.
A teacher at the school told me that since FAST began, children who were quiet in class are now more involved in lessons.
They also have more confidence speaking to adults and ask more questions, which will help their learning at such a critical stage in their development.
Helping parents to support their children
FAST supports children aged from three to eight years. One of the families in our FAST group is a mum with two young boys and a baby daughter.
Her children usually argue when they are together and the mum told me this makes it hard to help all of them with their homework.
By taking part in FAST activities together, we have helped to strengthen their family bonds. The boys now help each other during FAST activities and help their mum to look after their little sister.
The mum told us how well behaved they have been since coming to FAST, and how much easier it is to help them with their learning at home.
Creating supportive friendships
During FAST, parents build strong support networks with other parents, where they can share issues and advice.
This week one of the issues the parents talked about was how their children were being distracted by television, and how they were struggling to think of other activities which were cheap and entertaining.
Some parents then shared ideas about what has worked for them, ranging from free activities in the local area to the importance of setting consistent rules in the home.
Parents in our group really value the support FAST gives them and have asked me what will happen when the eight weeks end.
After these weekly sessions, parents will continue to meet monthly through ‘FASTWORKS’, led by the FAST parents themselves.
This vital element ensures that the support network FAST creates can continue, supporting parents to help their children throughout their education.