Linda Fabiani MSP for East Kilbride has welcomed the news from the Scottish Government that the Play, Talk and Read campaign is returning for a third year.  The campaign is designed to give parents and carers fun, practical information and ideas on how to play, talk and read more often with their children.

Linda said “The Play, Talk, Read campaign is part of the Scottish Government’s renewed focus on the early years of children’s lives.  Studies have shown that investment in early years education play dividends for the child and for society as a whole.

“The Play, Talk and Read roadshow will be visiting the East Kilbride Shopping Centre on Monday 24th October and I would encourage parents, grandparents and carers to bring their young children along and take advantage of the activities on offer.”

The national drive – which includes TV adverts, a one-stop website for parents of young children and provides free items to help children’s learning and development – is aimed at helping parents stimulate their children from birth through low-cost, fun activities.

The next stage of the campaign will again see the Play, Talk, Read roadshow appearing in locations across the country. TV and outdoor advertising will accompany the roadshows and the popular website will be featuring even more hints, tips and ideas for busy parents.

Announcing plans for the campaign during a visit to North Edinburgh Childcare Centre, Education Secretary Michael Russell said “Simply by playing, talking and reading with our children more often we can make a real difference to their development.”

“Improving the life chances of all our children is a key priority for this government. By the age of three a child’s brain is three-quarters of its adult size, with 50 per cent of language skills already developed, making the need to get the early years right beyond debate.”

“As well as the benefits to the individual it makes good financial sense for the wider community. Every one pound invested in a child’s early years can generate an eventual saving of nine pounds for the taxpayer.”

This campaign is this Government’s first step in providing more support and inspiration to parents. Independent evaluation of the campaign shows that the campaign is relevant and useful to parents, with more than three quarters of those interviewed saying it told them something new. The campaign has also inspired parents; with 79 per cent said they would try out some of the ideas suggested at home.

Minister for Children and Young People Angela Constance said the renewed campaign was just the start of a package of measures aimed at making the Early Years a key priority for the Scottish Government.

Ms Constance explained “There is growing and conclusive evidence that what happens before birth and through the early years of a child’s life dictates their longer-term life chances. The Play, Talk, Read campaign is crucial as it has proved very effective in encouraging parents to engage with their children right from the start.

“There are hard-edged economic benefits to early intervention. Early and effective intervention can significantly reduce costs to the state, both in the short and long term, and deliver better results for the individuals involved.

“That is why I will be ready and willing to do whatever is necessary. We will start by investing £750,000 in expanding this groundbreaking programme. In addition we are developing a National Parenting Strategy which will ensure parents are supported to help their children reach their full potential. We will also establish a £50 million Early Years Change Fund and introduce legislation early on in this Parliamentary term to ensure that investment in early years is not just an optional extra.”

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