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Making it REAL (2016 – 2023)


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Making it REAL (2016 – 2023)

Improving knowledge, confidence and motivation to support children’s early literacy skills in the home.

A Making it REAL workshop focused on communication and language development.

A blueprint for Making it REAL

This Learning Journey tells the story of Lambeth Early Action Partnership’s Making it REAL service. Learn how we improved the home-learning environment for young children and their parents living in areas of greatest deprivation. Find out about the local professionals we trained, the challenges we faced and the evidence that underpinned our early years literacy service.


Catherine Keal, Communication, Language and Literacy Programme Manager, LEAP.
Jo Gordon, Lambeth Early Years Schools and Educational Improvement Consultant/LEAP CLD lead.
Jacqui McDermid, Lambeth Early Years Schools and Educational Improvement Consultant/LEAP CLD lead.
Herbie Hyndley, Project Coordinator, LEAP.
Carla Stanke, Public Health Specialist, LEAP.

Who is this for?

These learnings provide a blueprint for those responsible for improving early literacy skills in their communities. This report will be useful for anyone with a professional or academic interest in communication and language development in early childhood.

The background

Children are at risk of school failure, low self-esteem and poor social skills without solid foundations in language and communication skills. There is evidence that children with ongoing language difficulty achieve lower academically.

Without effective help, a third of children with speech, language and communication difficulties will need treatment for mental health issues later in life. Children with poor vocabulary at age five are twice as likely to experience periods of unemployment as adults.

Children from the most disadvantaged groups have lower language skills than those in the least disadvantaged groups. Children who live in the most deprived areas are part of LEAP’s priority population.

Children’s learning is a result of interacting with people and their environment from birth. The quality of the home-learning environment has a major impact on a child’s development.

Making it REAL (MiR) aims to improve the home-learning environment through building parent/carer knowledge and confidence about what they do with their young children to build early literacy skills. It focuses on four strands of literacy: oral language, environmental print, books and early writing.

LEAP offered MiR to all early years settings in the LEAP area. Most participants lived in areas of greatest deprivation, and most children were from Black, Asian and Multiple Ethnic groups.

Headline numbers

Key statistics about Making it REAL. Read more about them in our full Learning Journey:

  • 83% (up from 54%) of parents helping children learn new vocabulary more than once a day
  • 32% (up from 5%) of parents helping children paint or draw more than seven times a week
  • 67% (up from 36%) of parents rhyming with their children more than seven times a week
  • 99 practitioners trained to deliver Making It REAL and use REAL messages to inform their practice

Explore our full learning journey to discover the implementation of Making It REAL from 2016-2023 in local settings and in Lambeth Children’s Centres.

This research is a rich and valuable source of learning.

Dip inside and head straight to the findings you’re most interested in.