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Five building blocks to boost children’s brain power

Parents have been discovering that there are five steps to help boost their children’s brain power, thanks to special courses run by Barnardo’s Cymru.

The Five to Thrive Approach encourages parents to spend time interacting with their children in five ways through talking, playing, relaxing, cuddling and responding, and now graduates of the classes are being encouraged to help other parents learn the same approach.

Barnardo’s Cymru’s Rural Families Service on Anglesey and Caban Bach in Gwynedd are asking parents who have completed the course to become volunteer ambassadors for Five to Thrive by sharing what they have learnt with other parents at nurseries, parenting schemes such as Ti a Fi and health groups.

The ambassadors’ project is being funded for the next 12 months by the Welsh Council for Voluntary Action and will be delivered in Welsh.

Research has shown that a parent’s interaction with their baby during the first three years of life can have a direct impact on how a baby’s brain develops and have long lasting results.

Five to Thrive helps parents learn simple ways of interacting such as singing or reading a story (talking), peekaboo or splashing about in water (playing), stretching exercises or taking a stroll to collect leaves (relaxing), tickling or showing a child how to comfort a soft toy (cuddling) and copying their facial expressions and encouraging them to trace patterns in flour on a table and talk about their pictures (responding).

Lyn Môn Owen-Hughes, Children’s Services Manager with Barnardo’s Cymru, said:

"Five to Thrive is a really useful approach that supports parents/carers in understanding the five key elements for developing their  baby`s brain and to foster positive attachment.

“To be able to develop the approach through the medium of Welsh ensures that we are able to support local linguistic needs too. The approach clearly compliments the Families First funded parenting provision that Barnardo`s Cymru provide in both Gwynedd and Anglesey.  

“Now we hope that good work will be passed on across the community. We’ve had interest from 22 parents who are attending a session this week and those who sign up to become ambassadors will receive further training.”

Parents wanting to know more about Five to Thrive should contact the Rural Families Service, telephone 01248 751194.


For further information please contact Barnardo’s Cymru Media and Communications Manager Margaret O’Reilly on 029 2043 6229/07827 977830

Barnardo’s Cymru works with more than 8,000 individual young people and families in 94 specialised projects in local communities across Wales. This includes work with children affected by today’s most urgent issues: poverty, homelessness, disability, bereavement and abuse.

Thomas Barnardo’s vision was for no child to be turned away from the help they need. During its 150 year history the charity has helped transform the lives of millions of disadvantaged children in the UK, and continues to help families build better futures. Last year 272,000 children, young people and families were supported by Barnardo’s through more than 1,000 services across the UK, including young carers, care leavers, foster carers and adoptive parents, training and skills and parenting classes. Visit www.barnardos.org.uk to find out more. Follow Barnardo’s media team on Twitter @BarnardosNews

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