Speech and language experts say too many children in the UK are not as developed as they should be by the time they start school.

This is particularly true when it comes to their speech and language ability. We know that children who have poor vocabulary skills at age five are less likely to succeed academically but they are also up to twice as likely to be unemployed in their thirties.

Jemma Nelson, the clinical lead for speech and language at North Cumbria integratedJemma Nelson.jpg​​​​​​​ Care NHS Trust, said: “The more we chat, play and read with our kids, the more we help build their brains. Anytime, anywhere, whether at home or out and about, it all adds up. There is no need to buy lots of toys or have big days out. Wherever you are, simply chatting back and forth, answering a child’s questions and sharing special moments together all help their brain to grow and develop secure and strong connections. Just what they need to get off to the right start at school.

“Early childhood is a crucial time for brain development. A young, developing brain changes shape and size in response to everything it encounters. We need to make sure that families are aware of the importance of this early stage development.”

To help this a new national campaign has been launched called ‘Little Moments Together’

The campaign aims to educate families about the importance of brain development in the first five years of a child’s life, and the crucial role they play, with advice and tips from Start for Life. Discover more at https://www.nhs.uk/start-for-life/early-learning-development/

You can also check NCIC’s Children’s Speech and Language Therapy Facebook Page by searching @CumbriaCommunicates. The team shares regular advice and support of things you could try at home, as well as activities in your local area.

Here are some handy tips to help families

• Get on the same level as the child.

• Follow the child’s lead and interests.

• Pause and wait for the child to show what they’re interested in.

• Listen, watch, and respond to all forms of their communication.

• Describe the child’s actions and consider what their thoughts and feelings might be.

• Copy or fill in whenever the child attempts to communicate.

• Use few questions, describing what’s happening instead.

• When asking questions, try to keep them open-ended rather than yes or no questions.

Ideal contexts for ‘Together Time’:

• Bath time

• Mealtimes

• Outdoor time

• Bedtime routines

• Shopping trips

• Book-sharing moments

• Toddler group interactions

• Playtime with toys

• Any daily routines shared together

• While on public transport

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