Margaret Clark: How Health Visitors Can Help
Senior Health Promotion Officer Margaret Clark talks about the role of health visitors and other early years professionals in assisting new parents and helping them find the best way to encourage young children to learn
My name is Margaret Clark, and I’m a Senior Health Promotion Officer with a remit for Early Years Health Improvement. For me, Early Years is important because we now recognise how much happens in those crucial first days, months and years and how much we really need to get right.
Where the health visitor’s role is, is really crucial in this work. Health visitors are able to share the understanding that they have of how babies’ brains develop, how they learn, how the connections within our brains when we’re tiny come together; by repetition, by hearing stories repeated over and over again, and that’s something that is really important and helps children to learn. And it’s never too early to share a book with your baby, or even earlier, you know? To sing to your bump if you’re pregnant.
As we know, it’s so much more than just sharing a book, it’s about cuddling together, building a relationship together, feeling loved, feeling protected, feeling secure on the person’s knee that you’re sharing that story with. So being able to recognise, for health visitors, that literacy is something that is really part of the job that they do.
In Lanarkshire, we’ve brought together the key messages from both of the parents and support programmes, Bookbug and Play at Home. And something as important as being gifted a bag of books, CDs, music, you know what is within the Bookbug Packs, can help a child and a family achieve so much more than not having been given these valuable resources.
I also recognise that there’s a wider team, it’s not just the health visitor, there may be a staff nurse, or nursery nurse working within the team. But it’s that recognition that we all have a role to ensure that every family gets the opportunity, that nobody is excluded from these valuable resources.