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Building Blocks

Foundations for Early Childhood

Supporting children's Learning at home

The first few years of a child’s life matter so much.

It’s a crucial time for their learning and development, as they explore the world around them – learning to walk, talk, socialise and practise routines.

A quality home learning environment, and the way parents support their children at home, helps to give them the best start in life.

But too many families across the UK don’t have access to basic items that support childhood learning and development.

Parents want to do the best for their children, but we know poverty puts tremendous pressure on families and damages these precious early years. Right now, almost a third of children in the UK experience poverty before they start school.

A daily struggle to make ends meet means it’s harder for families to provide the basics that would help their children learn at home, like books and toys. And it doesn’t only impact them materially: poverty also limits parents’ capacity and time to give children playful and nurturing experiences at home.

Our Building Blocks programme aims to give every child the best start in life by:

  • reducing the impact of material deprivation on families’ lives
  • building an understanding of the effective ways that support parents to play and learn with their children at home

How Building Blocks works

Building Blocks is delivered across Belfast and Margate.

In each of these areas we work with local partners, like Family Support Workers, Health Visitors and Early Help Support workers - drawing on data, knowledge, and practical experiences from children, families, and partners about how to support parents to play and learn with their children.

There is a real need for innovation and testing to help us, our partners, and the wider early years sector understand what works.

We provide families with:

  • essential household items that reduce immediate material need, financial pressures and stress, as well as building positive routines around meal and bedtimes.
  • high quality Early Learning Packs, designed to encourage parent-child interactions and support age-appropriate play for early communication and language development.
We will:
  • learn with children, families, and partners about how parents can best provide a home environment that supports children's development: social, emotional, speech, language, and communication.
  • find practices, approaches and principles that are effective, affordable and can be replicated and adapted in different community contexts. 
  • listen to children and family’s voices: building credible evidence of how poverty is impacting on their lives, how it makes it difficult to support children’s learning and what they want to see happen.

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