Reading bedtime stories, painting and singing at home with young children at risk for language difficulties could help boost the economy by up to £ 1.2 billion over their lifetime, a report suggests.
It is estimated that one in seven (14%) three-year-olds in the UK – around 116,000 children – are at risk of developing ‘vulnerable’ early language skills that could hold them back later in life, thereby increasing their probability of unemployment and reduction of their income. , according to research by Pro Bono Economics.
But the analysis, commissioned by KPMG UK and the National Literacy Trust (NLT), found that two more home learning activities per day can lift preschoolers out of the ‘at risk’ category.
The study suggests that the potential lifetime cost to the economy of not supporting these children ‘at risk of vulnerable language skills’ could be in the order of £ 327million for each cohort of three-year-olds.
Lifetime costs could reach £ 1.2bn for people in the four cohorts of preschoolers who are or may become at risk for language difficulties.
The report, seen by the PA News Agency, suggests that there is a “significant risk that these costs have been further exacerbated” as a result of the pandemic.
He adds that the closure of many early childhood facilities and the added stress for parents and children means the pandemic has likely had a negative impact on the skills training of preschoolers.
The researchers defined children at risk of vulnerable language skills as those who might have difficulty mastering their language skills in the future, but who are unlikely to have a persistent language disorder and are unlikely to need help. ‘specialized support to achieve this improvement.
They analyzed data from the Department of Education’s Early Childhood Education and Development (Seed) study to identify the gap in the language skills of this cohort of children.
To estimate long-term economic costs, the researchers linked this language skills gap to the lifetime monetary value of not improving their early language skills.
Overall, the analysis suggests that failing to improve the early language skills of at-risk children could potentially cost £ 2,829 per child over their lifetimes.
“With the pandemic disrupting children’s development too much, addressing the challenge of language and reading skills is essential to prevent short-term impacts from turning into long-term problems. “
Jonathan Douglas, CEO of NLT, said: “A child’s early language and communication skills are not only the foundation of their literacy, but also influence a lifetime of social, emotional and economic outcomes.
“This report is a timely call to action to all who can support parents in early childhood, as increased support for early parenting helps pave the way for a more prosperous and just society.”
Bina Mehta, President of KPMG UK, said: “The pandemic has exacerbated the number of children showing poor early language skills, with those from disadvantaged backgrounds likely being disproportionately affected.
“If businesses are serious about improving social mobility and boosting our economy, then supporting early childhood education and development is a critical starting point. In doing so, we can lay the foundations for a more prosperous and fairer economy.