Home Start West Dorset has launched two new programmes to help prepare children for school.

The programmes are called Home Talk and Big Hopes, Big Future.

It comes as the charity has moved premises, to Fordington, after eight years in Poundbury.

Helen Horsley, senior organiser for the charity, said: “Research shows that children are going to school without having the core skills they need in terms of things like communication, playing and sharing with others, understanding simple hygiene and coping away from their parents. So, we’re delighted to be able to implement the most up to date research that will help children have the best start at school.

“Home Talk is aimed at children from three months to just under three; Big Hopes, Big Future for pre-school children aged two to five,” she said.

She added: “Both programmes are something I’d love to work on in conjunction with local pre-schools and primary schools and other professionals. So, if anyone’s interested, do please get in touch.”

The Home Talks programme lasts 12 weeks and encourages parents to talk and read to their babies and children. As part of the programme, the child wears a brightly coloured vest which records the number of words they’re exposed to and the duration of conversations a parent has with them.

Helen added: “When we did a pilot programme, we saw a real difference in the number of words children were hearing, and how more two-way conversations began to take place. This is so important, as research has shown that interactive talk is a key factor in early brain development, helping children develop cognitively, emotionally and socially. Children who experience too few words can suffer gaps that affects their readiness both for school and life in general.”

Meanwhile, Big Hopes, Big Future will be delivered over four months, with sessions taking place in the family home and lasting two hours each time.

Helen said: “Research done by Home Start UK has shown that it’s a cost-effective programme that helps ensure children begin school better able to learn and enjoy their studies.

“It’s particularly effective in helping children learn to adjust their behaviours; improve language and cognitive skills (the core skills your brain uses to do things like think, read, learn, pay attention and reason), as well as the basic ones for daily living.”

The programmes are being funded through grants administered through Home Start UK, Dorset County Council and Home Start West Dorset’s own community fundraising.