What is the Start Well Wheel?
The Start Well Wheel is a tool for parents/carers to track all appointments and key milestones in their child’s life.
It is a visual record that covers all key partners, from health visitors to education to community provision such as Library Services. It enables a family to see what is coming next or access something they have missed.
It is easy to use. Parents/carers can highlight sections that indicate the services the child has received. The wheel can be updated as often as parents/carers wish and can be shared with other professionals working with the family. It will be useful at different transition points such as starting nursery or school.
Who is the Start Well Wheel for?
The Start Well Wheel belongs to the child, but parents/carers fill in the tool on behalf of their child. This will help the parent/carer to ensure they access everything they can for their child and it will assist services working with under 5s to learn about the child’s journey from birth to starting school.
How to use the Start Well Wheel?
Parents/carers can use a highlighter, or any felt tip to mark the child’s milestones and will shade the relevant section as they attend each appointment. The Start Well Wheel can also be completed by a professional in conjunction with the parent/carer.
Where to keep the Start Well Wheel?
The parent/carer will be encouraged to keep the Start Well Wheel in the child’s red book (Child’s Health Record.) Additional Start Well Wheels have been distributed to key professionals, as we know for some children that the Start Well Wheel/red book may not follow along with them i.e. children who become looked after.
Why complete the Start Well Wheel?
It is a well-known fact that the care provided for development through antenatal visits, breastfeeding and early stimulation behaviours for new-borns and infants are early indicators of parenting practices that promote the learning and development of children (WHO 1999). St Helens Borough Council has made a commitment through its Early Years Strategy to support parents/carers to make the best start in life for their child. The Start Well Wheel is a tool to assist this process.
The challenge was to collect all relevant data from all partner agencies and later decide which statements to add and which to delete. It was acknowledged all agencies work was important and valued but to make the tool workable it needed to be succinct.
There also needed to be awareness raising of the Start Well Wheel with parents/carers and professionals working with under fives and alignment with other Early Years developments in St Helens that contribute to school readiness.
Through discussions at the Early Years Strategic Group and through the School Readiness sub-group, the relevant content was agreed upon, alongside the design of the wheel.
During the professionals launch of the NSPCC Look, Say, Sing, Play campaign at Chester Lane Library in March 2022, copies of the Start Well Wheel were available to take away. This launch enabled a number of professionals working with under fives to meet in person for the first time since the pandemic to share outcomes, learning and progress as well as collaborating over the new NSPCC project.
This was considered to be an excellent opportunity to introduce the Start Well Wheel. Th Library Service is using the Start Well Wheel at Read and Rhyme Times to encourage parents to access services for their child and to prepare for school.
Further promotion of the Start Well Wheel will be discussed at the Early Years Strategic Group meetings and this will tie into the launch of Family Hubs across the Borough.
The Start Well Wheel is a tool to enhance parental knowledge and confidence about services available for their child. It is a helping hand to guide parents through their child’s first 5 years. It will be widely available through partnership working. As it is a new tool, evaluation of impact is yet to be established.
How is the new approach being sustained?
All services working with families have easy access to the Start Well Wheel (stored in libraries, children’s centres and with key agencies) and can either distribute them during their visits or signpost families to groups in Children’s Centre or Libraries to collect one. The Early Years Strategic Group will be monitoring impact.
Those families who have already been given a copy of the Start Well Wheel commented that having this tool is not only informative but also empowering.
It's a good tool to remind you of what you've done or not and what kind of support is available."
Gabrielle, attending Read and Rhyme time session with her child, Parr Library, March 2022
Although this is a tool for parents/carers; professionals should find it useful in their work with families and empowered to provide quality guidance and signposting to ensure the best start in life.