Early years children helped ‘find their voice’ through music and storytelling

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The communication skills of young children in Blackpool are to be boosted by an innovative new project that combines music, language, and storytelling.

Bispham Endowed Primary School, in the north of the town, is launching Natterbox Nook this month, thanks to a grant of more than £17,000 from education charity SHINE.

As part of the project, early years children and their parents and carers will be invited to take part in two free weekly sessions led by staff at the school.

One of the 45-minute sessions will involve music making, while the other will be story-focused.

Nursery teacher and project lead Cath Anderton said: “This is a bespoke project we have created specifically to meet the needs of the children starting at our school. Some children, upon starting nursery, have poor communication skills and this programme is designed to improve children’s ability in this area.

“Natterbook Nook is all about finding children’s voices, whatever kind of voice that is, and about making sure that they have fun.

“Currently we find that lots of our children are reluctant speakers when they arrive at our school, which can hold them back in their development and education.”

Mrs Anderton said the combination of music and storytelling will encourage children to communicate.

“This is quite different to anything I’ve seen before, because it’s merging the music with the story, making it engaging and enjoyable,” she said.

Children will be encouraged to interact, question and play with other children and their families.

We are delighted to have received the support from SHINE, and are now excited to get started. I am certain that this project will make a real difference to our children.

Cath Anderton Nursery teacher and project lead

SHINE’s grant would help fund the additional teacher hours required to plan and deliver sessions.

As well as helping the children, the sessions will provide an opportunity for parents to observe and participate in positive, successful interactions between children and adults and, gain a better understanding of how they can help their child become a successful communicator.

“We are delighted to have received the support from SHINE, and are now excited to get started,” said Mrs Anderton. “I am certain that this project will make a real difference to our children.”

As well as the two weekly sessions, the project will see the school organising special activities in and around Blackpool each half term.

“Although Blackpool is rich in cultural opportunities, some of our families are unable to access all the town has to offer. This funding will enable us to significantly subsidise the costs of these activities, making them accessible for all children.”

Dr Helen Rafferty, Interim CEO of SHINE, said: “We are delighted to be supporting this exciting project at Bispham Endowed Primary School. We know that music, storytelling and engaging cultural experiences are hugely valuable for children and families, helping to develop language skills, vocabulary and curiosity, and we are really looking forward to seeing the impact of this work in the coming years.”

Michelle Warburton, Headteacher at Bispham Endowed Primary School, added: As a school family, we are so excited to be launching the ‘Natterbox Nook’.  This is a wonderful initiative which will enhance early literacy and communication through music and story sessions for our nursery children and their families.

“We are truly lucky to have such highly skilled teachers with a wealth of experience, who will deliver ‘Natterbox Nook’ sessions with passion and enthusiasm. I have no doubt that this project will greatly benefit all those involved.”