Fair by Five: the language of learning

It’s important that we describe child development in a way that is meaningful to parents, politicians and professionals. Can Fair By Five do it all at the same time?

young boy rubbing eye on white backdrop

How children develop is fascinating. In the first five years, a child develops more rapidly than at any other point in their lives. From birth, they are learning how to be a person interacting with the world as they develop the skills that will take them forward into their lives as adults.

Each child is unique and at Action for Children we believe that every child should have the support they need to fulfil their potential. This means that we need to be able to identify when a child might be in need of additional help and what can be done to support them.

With our influencing hats on, we know that an effective way to get the Government’s ear on an issue is to speak to them using some of their own language. This is why we talk about children reaching a ‘good level of development’ and being ‘ready for school’. We understand and advocate ourselves that there are a range of ways in which children can develop and learn, and that each child learns at a different pace. However, our fundamental point – that the first five years are crucial – is yet to be fully embraced by the Government and that needs to be our starting point.

That’s where mechanisms such as the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP) play a role. As a framework from Government, it sets out key areas of learning for children in the first five years of their lives. We are aware that it does not encompass all the wide ranging and varied aspects of children’s development and that other factors, such as building self-confidence and taking risks, are part of a child’s growth. And while we know this to be the case, we do believe the EYFSP is a useful tool to indicate how a child is developing.

With Fair by Five, we want to stress the importance of the first five years of a child’s life, and to highlight how crucial their development is during these early years. This is one of the main drivers of this campaign. Like the EYFSP, it cannot capture every nuance and complexity of children’s development but it strives to build a picture of what good development means for children, their families and for society more broadly.

At Action for Children, one of our roles is to speak out fearlessly for children, and to demand that they have the support they need to flourish. Campaigning and getting our message across is how we bring this ambition to life. It’s what we will continue to do with the integrity that ambition deserves.

Language is a powerful tool. To be effective, we need to consider who we are speaking to and how to tailor our communications to get our message across. Like children, we are always learning. We won’t always get it right, but we will grow and change, using what we have learned about the world to inform our future actions.

If you have any questions about our Fair by Five campaign and our work on the early years, please get in touch.

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