The National Literacy Trust has launched Small Talk, which aims to support the language development of 30,000 children under the age of five by equipping parents with skills and confidence to chat, play and read with their child every day.
Small Talk has launched small-talk.org.uk, a new website, featuring videos, advice and information to help parents make chatting, playing and reading activities part of their daily routine with children.
Over the next year, Small Talk will also provide targeted support to 2,100 families living in seven communities across England where levels of disadvantage are high and large numbers of children are starting school without the literacy skills expected for their age.
The National Literacy Trust will train volunteers from local businesses who will join early years professionals at public events in places parents are already visiting with their children, such as shopping centres and coffee shops, to show parents activities they can do at home to build their children’s language skills.
Events will take place in Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Stoke-on-Trent, Swindon and Peterborough.
The project’s launch coincides with the release of a new report highlighting the link between children’s early language skills and life chances, which calls for sustained Government leadership and multi-agency support to unlock language, reading and learning opportunities for every child.
The ‘Language unlocks reading’ report, written by the National Literacy Trust with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Literacy and Oxford University Press, shows that children with poor language and communication skills at age of five are six times less likely to reach the expected standard in English at age 11 and twice as likely to be unemployed aged 34.
Small Talk, which is funded for 18 months, forms part of the National Literacy Trust and Department for Education’s Home Learning Environment Initiative.
The initiative comprises a national behaviour change campaign and coalition of 100 businesses pledging their support as part of the Government’s ambition to halve the number of children starting school without the early communication and language skills they need by 2028.
Judith Parke, head of the Home Learning Environment at the National Literacy Trust, said, ‘When parents are involved in their children’s literacy development it makes a huge difference to their success at school and in later life.
‘Small Talk will help parents turn the daily activities they are already doing with their children into opportunities to build their child’s language skills and give them the foundations for a brighter future.’
- For more on the 'Language unlocks reading' report read our exclusive blog from Andrea Quincey, head of primary English at Oxford University Press