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An evaluation of the effects of the Eager and Able to Learn programme on outcomes for 2-3 years olds in early years settings [Executive summary]

Eager and Able to Learn (EAL) is a new pilot programme designed by Early Years--the organisation for young children in Northern Ireland, and targeted at 2-3 year-old children in early years settings. It aims to improve young children's eagerness and ability to learn through enhancing their physical, social, emotional, and linguistic development. The programme places a particular emphasis on physical movement, on the physical design of early childhood programme settings, and on relationships - the practitioner/child relationship, the parent/child relationship and the partnership between the parent and the practitioner - to support young children's development. The theory of change underpinning the programme is that movement provides a natural context for children of this age to develop. The programme has a group-based element, which involves a series of developmental movement and play activities, and a home-based element including home visits, which encourages parents to explore play activities with their children in the home environment. A Senior Early Years Specialist (SEYS) was assigned to each setting to provide: (1) initial training in programme implementation for practitioners; (2) a series of support visits and cluster sessions for practitioners throughout the year; and (3) workshops for parents of children who participated in the programme. In addition, practitioners were given a service design manual to guide them through the delivery of all aspects of the programme. A home learning package for parents was provided. The evaluation of the programme took the form of a cluster trial using a partial-cross-over design, led by the Centre for Effective Education with the School of Psychology, and a fidelity implementation study, led by the National Children's Bureau in Northern Ireland. The findings from the fidelity implementation study are reported separately (Geraghty, Molyneaux & Dunne, 2012). This report presents the findings of the cluster trial evaluation into the effectiveness of the EAL programme in improving outcomes for children, their parents and the early years practitioners/settings involved in delivering EAL. (author abstract)
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Executive Summary

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