New programme at the Walker will support language and literacy learning

Photo: Robin Clewley

THE Walker Art Gallery is set to launch a new learning programme specially designed to support language and literacy development in 0-7 year olds. The programme, called Storywalkers, aims to tackle concerning levels of language and literacy learning among early years children in the Liverpool City Region.

Storywalkers will present a range of different sessions, many of which will run on a weekly basis and use the Walker’s world class artworks as a tool for learning and development. The sessions are free of charge and are designed for parents and carers to bring their children to.

Families are invited to join the team at the Walker for the official Storywalkers launch on Saturday 10 November, from 11am until 4pm. The launch will provide an opportunity to find out more about the programme, and to take part in activity taster sessions.

Storywalkers responds to research carried out in 2016-17, published by the charity Beanstalk. Findings revealed that 58% of children starting primary school in England are already behind in their reading. In relation to children leaving primary school, 34% are unable to read to the required level. In Liverpool, this rises to 40% of children.

Paul Khan, Deputy Director of Education and Visitors at National Museums Liverpool, said: “Levels of deprivation and child poverty in Liverpool are particularly high and we know that disadvantaged children enter school significantly behind their more affluent peers in vocabulary development.

“At the Walker, we will work with parents to help them to support their children’s development. Through fun activities such as song and rhyme, story telling, sensory activities and messy play, we know that we can help to develop a love of reading, extend children’s vocabulary and support the development of motor skills, for mark making and writing.”

Many of the sessions will take place in the Walker’s children’s gallery, Big Art, which is designed for 0-6 year olds. The Walker is the only art gallery in the region to house a gallery of this kind. In 2017/18, Big Art attracted 131,022 visitors, which accounted for 41% of the overall number of visits to the Gallery.

To encourage families to explore, break-out activities will take place in a variety of spaces around the Gallery. There will be a particular focus on developing children’s visual language skills through engagement with artworks in the Gallery environment.

The sessions, which have been developed in collaboration with School Improvement Liverpool, include:

  • Babbling babies – Songs, stories and sensory activities for pre-crawlers under the age of 12 months. Designed to support babies’ early communication and physical development.
  • Toddler time – Sensory play, craft activities, stories and rhyme fun with a different weekly theme. These sessions use repetition to aid learning.
  • Song explorers – A song-based session for early years using familiar tunes, with new words, inspired by the Walker’s collection.
  • Rhyme time – Learning to read starts with rhyme. This Saturday session is suitable for all the family, including babies.
  • Once upon a time – A story-based Sunday session for all the family. Stories will include traditional fairy tales alongside family favourites.
  • Pitter patter painters – A messy play session designed to support the development of creativity and gross motor skills for under 3’s, preparing them for writing.