Early Learning Initiative

Pictured: Sharon Gregg implements the ELI with daughter Hollie. (Photo by Maria Shields O’Kelly).

Pictured: Sharon Gregg implements the ELI with daughter Hollie. (Photo by Maria Shields O’Kelly).

The first day of school can be a daunting experience for any child. If parents could de-mystify the experience by arming them with some prior knowledge it could give them the confidence to take on the challenge comfortably. The Early Learning Initiative aims to do just that.

With its roots in the National College of Ireland (NCI), Mayor Square, The Parent-Child Home Programme (PCHP) originating in the United States forms a key part of The Early Learning Initiative’s family support programme. It focuses on the natural bond between parent and child, and encourages this bond to nurture a love of learning. The parent is the first teacher and the programme provides the tools for effective teaching through home visits.

NewsFour sat in on a home visit with Sharon Gregg and her three year old daughter Hollie, who has been enjoying two half-hour weekly sessions for a year now.

Gregg showed NewsFour the different toys and books that they have received through the programme, which is designed to instill basic numeracy and literacy skills through play. “The Ten Scary Monsters book is her favorite. It helps her with counting. She loves the cups too. They were one of the first things she started with and they help her with colours and counting, but her favorite part is knocking them down when she has built them,” she said as Hollie gave a demonstration.

The facilitator, also named Sharon, explained how the interactive play helps with brain development. “The cup toy also helps with positioning language. For example, if it is under or over, and how high it is. We have found the programme particularly useful for children who do not have English as a first language. It also helps their imagination.”

She continued, “When we bring a toy we come back a few weeks later and go back to evaluate. Only when they have grasped the concepts will we move on. Once a week we report back to the college. This is highly confidential, and the information is stored on a database. Parents are more than welcome to read our notes on their child.”

The information is useful to evaluate progress and Sharon says that they have received excellent feedback from children who have participated.

For more information on participation or recruitment opportunities, contact Beth Fagan at beth.fagan@ncirl.ie or visit ncirl.ie/ELI/Strand-1-Early-Learning-0-6-years/Home-Visitor-Programme-PCHP


By Maria Shields O’Kelly