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  • Start communicating with your baby in pregnancy through talking and touch

From birth:

  • Babies communicate from day one
  • Take time to watch your child, wait and listen
  • Find time every day to talk with your baby/child. For example, whilst shopping and in the car
  • Playing with your child is important for speech and language development; sing and listen to nursery rhymes and songs together. This also helps to develop your child's language
  • Enjoy sharing stories and reading together
  • Rather than asking too many questions, comment on your child's play or actions and add a new word or idea. For example, "Mmh a banana. A yellow banana", rather than "what's that you're eating?"
  • Give time for your child to respond in their own way - with a look, a gesture, or with sounds and words
  • Use the Five to Thrive principles: Respond, Cuddle, Relax, Play, Talk. This will build attachment and support language development as you are connecting with your child.

If English is not your first language:

  • Use the language you are most fluent in to talk to your baby - this is important to help your babies brain development to support speech, language and communication
  • Children learn English faster if they are building on firm foundations in their first language
  • On average, children with a well-developed first language reach fluency in English 2 to 3 years sooner than children without
  • 'More than 10% of children and young people have long term speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) which create barriers to communication and learning in everyday life.' Bercow 10 Years on
  • Less than half of all children who had not reached the expected levels of language at the age of 5 years went on to achieve the national benchmark scores in reading, writing and maths at 11 years' Centre Forum 2016. Education in England Annual Report
  • 'Children with poor vocabulary skills are twice as likely to be unemployed when they reach adulthood' Bercow 10 Years On

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Last updated: 4 September 2019 | Last reviewed: 4 September 2019