Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

First Steps to a More Rounded Childhood

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

First Steps to a More Rounded Childhood

Article excerpt

Janet Philpott and Di Politt share a vision - to have an emotionally healthy Middlesbrough. The two women came up with the idea of devising SPARC - a programme to help parents with the emotional and social development of their babies and young children. The move to introduce the programmes follows evidence children with effective social and emotional skills will achieve well. Middlesbrough is the only authority in the country to introduce such a programme for parents. Education reporter JOANNA DESIRA met Di and Janet to find out more about SPARC.

PARENTS in Middlesbrough can learn the skills seen in practice on television's Supernanny and Little Angels thanks to a unique new programme.

SPARC - supporting positive attention and reciprocal communication - has been developed in Middlesbrough.

A total of 500 free packs have been made available to parents in the town to help them to learn the skills needed to ensure the social and emotional development of their children and promote inclusion of all children.

The packs are aimed at children aged from birth to six-years-old and are available at nurseries, playgroups, SureStart centres and schools.

The idea is children who have the best possible start in life establish the structures needed for growth and learning.

The first three years are the strongest period for a child's brain development.

The pack contains activities for parents and children to practice to help the children in developing skills such as communication, play, self-esteem, and emotional development.

Activities include helping parents understand the importance of holding and cuddling their baby, communicating with their baby and encouraging them to communicate and imitate, nursery rhymes, playing with toys, helping them recognise objects, through to helping them understand emotions and games to help them get to know other children.

SPARC is the brainchild of educational psychologist Janet Philpott and Di Pollitt, programme manager for SureStart.

It has been developed by health professionals, including speech therapists and clinical psychologists, and teachers and other education specialists. …

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