Chatta Club offering families a helping hand during coronavirus outbreak

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With most children home from school for the foreseeable future, teachers, parents and carers have been striving to devise ways of keeping youngsters both entertained and educated during the coming months.

Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are particularly vulnerable at this time and there are fears an extended spell away from school could expand the existing attainment gap even further.

While many of the projects SHINE supports are classroom-based, several of our grantees and partners have already begun modifying their programmes to help children through these unprecedented times.

Those centred around technology are often well-suited for remote learning and, with some relatively small adjustments, a number have already become part of the new daily routine in living rooms across the country.

A case in point is Chatta, a highly regarded educational tool, which has been swiftly adapted to support families during the COVID-19 crisis.

Chatta is a simple teaching approach that combines images and words and is used by teachers to support work in the classroom with a focus on language, communication and literacy. It is now used in numerous schools across the UK and overseas.

SHINE is currently supporting and funding a project bringing Chatta into twelve schools in Hull. The initiative, which is in its early stages, has a focus on early language and communication.

Chatta founder Chris Williams wanted to do something to help once it became clear how much of an impact coronavirus was going to have on children’s education.

Chris and his team have created Chatta Club, aimed at the families and schools affected by the virus. Parents and carers can join for free and they receive daily creative actvities for children to enjoy and learn from at home, and access to Chatta’s award-winning software.

Chris explains: “Chatta normally provides training and classroom resources for school, as well as for parents with our popular Early Years resource ‘Chatta Matters’. We are a training company and make our living as educational consultants working with hundreds of schools. Due to COVID-19 this has stopped.

“We want to help families at this unprecedented time, and it makes sense to encourage as many as possible to get involved.

The way Chatta has been designed means it is perfect for home learning and supporting families and we have lots of activities to share which we know children love.

Chris Williams Chatta founder

“The way Chatta has been designed means it is perfect for home learning and supporting families and we have lots of activities to share which we know children love.

“In the first 48 hours we picked up almost 350 new members and have had some very positive feedback.”

Parent Dianne Hepworth from York, for instance, has said her son Daniel loves the activities and looks forward to new ones every day.

Chatta Club activities are aimed at children aged 5 to 11. The Chatta software is easy to use and the Chatta team have thousands of fun, simple, engaging activity ideas which can be completed at home.

“Chatta at home is about doing things, making things, exploring, imagination and talking,” says Chris. “It is not like school and can be very open-ended.

Chris Williams

“The central component of every Chatta actvity is storytelling. Stories are everywhere. You could make a story set in the kitchen, on the staircase, behind the sofa. Every home holds endless stories. This is what Chatta unlocks, and as narrative competence and storytelling is the key to reading, writing and wider learning the more of this taking place the better.

“Children enjoy making Chatta stories. They can share them with relatives they can’t see. They can share them with their teacher, or even the Chatta team. Parents can feel at ease that their children are engaged and active, learning new things and being creative and enjoying doing so.

“Chatta Club has been designed to be not like school at all, it can happen anytime and at any pace.”

Less than a week since the school closures, Chatta Club is already making a difference.

“It is early days and families are becoming familiar with new routines and still facing uncertainty,” says Chris.

“We just want to help them and if they give Chatta a chance they will see a positive difference in the way their children enjoy learning experiences at home.”

To sign up for Chatta Club, or to find out more, see