Poetry project launched to boost children's literacy skills

Pupils from Mary Elton Primary School

Children from Mary Elton Primary School with some of the popular poems. - Credit: North Somerset

A community poetry project to support children’s language development has been launched across North Somerset. 

The number of children with some form a speech or language delay is increasing and education experts fear lockdown could set pupils back even further. 

North Somerset Council has launched The Poetry Basket to help children improve their language skills and develop a love of literacy. 

As part of the scheme, 36 poems have been introduced to children through their nurseries, preschools and childminders. 

A council spokesman said: “The idea is that early years practitioners learn the poems and then teach the children face to face, promoting the development of oral communication as well as rhythm, rhyme, memory and enriched vocabulary.” 

The poems have been collated by MakeBelieveArts, which is working closely with the council’s early years team to promote the project. 

The Poetry Basket has been a huge success so far, and the early years team is now keen for businesses to get involved by putting up poems in their shop windows. 

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 A council spokesman said: “Sharing some of these poems in our local shops and shared spaces will offer a ‘common golden thread’ of learning to our youngest children, with adults spotting and reading the poems to the children, modelling rhyme, rhythm, enriched vocabulary and most of all, having fun learning together.” 

Julie Bisacre in Present Company

Julie Bisacre, from Present Company, who is encouraging businesses in Clevedon to advertise the poems. - Credit: North Somerset Council

The poems have already been put up around Clevedon to enable children to recognise the rhymes while they are out and about. It was pioneered in Clevedon in memory of Linda Roberts from Mary Elton Primary School, who died last year. Linda’s passion was promoting children’s language through songs and rhymes. 

Kaye Case, former headteacher of Mary Elton Primary School, said: “Linda was simply buzzing and fizzing with energy and ideas about how to promote language development in our four-year-olds at Mary Elton Primary School.

“How Linda would have loved to have been part of the Poetry Basket project. She would have found such joy in sharing these poems with young children and associating her with the project is a fitting part of her legacy.” 

Linda Roberts

Linda Roberts from Mary Elton Primary School. - Credit: North Somerset Council

Parents and carers are encouraged to talk to their child’s preschool, nursery, childminder or reception class about the project, or email gail.alder@n-somerset.gov.uk for more information. 

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