Learning from the successes of the courses that we run, and listening to requests from parents is a large part of A Better Start Southend. And it was the enthusiastic feedback from our Let’s Talk with your Baby course, designed to improve the communication skills of babies aged 6-9 months that led us to follow it up with successful versions for slightly older children.

Talking Tiddlers (for babies 12-18 months) and Talking Toddlers (for those aged 18-24 months), were piloted in February and March at Friars and Centre Place Children’s Centres following feedback and consultation with parents at the end of last year.

The interactive, lively and fun Talking Toddlers and Talking Tiddlers sessions ran over five weeks with a focus on a different aspect of a child’s language development. The youngsters learnt new words and listened for sounds, while parents were encouraged to create and make a range of child-friendly things to use and play with at home – from musical instruments and puppets to fruit kebabs. Parents were equipped with a range of skills to helping ensure that their children keep on learning. And parents have been very enthusiastic:

“I would like to attend other courses, he’s changed the way he plays at home.” Dad

“Following the course, we think about how to engage with her with words and develop her language skills.” Mum

While the new courses have been enjoying their successful first run, the Let’s Talk with your Baby sessions have been going from strength to strength. The sessions focus on different communications skills, such as making eye contact and enjoying sensory play, using custard, jelly and Rice Krispies as well as a number of specifically sensory books. Parents have been enthusiastic in their response to the course, with recent comments such as:

“We’ve changed the way we play as I’ve gained more confidence in talking to my baby and realising it never stops. Which is great!”

“This course improved my understanding of how to make each small activity we do an opportunity for quality communication.”

And there’s more on the way

From the success of these courses and following feedback, we have set up two new courses; ‘Chatting Children’ for those aged 2-3 years and ‘Super Sounds’, for over 3s. These continue to work on the child’s communication skills, appropriate to the individual and their stage of communication development. Together, the programmes are designed to help ensure that children are as well prepared as possible as they approach school age. A crucial element in the programme is for parents and carers to learn key skills to support their children’s’ language development at home.

With these sessions running in addition to the Let’s Talk with your Baby, Talking Toddlers and Talking Tiddlers courses beginning this term in the A Better Start Southend areas, there will be five courses running promoting under-4’s communication development. It all adds up to plenty to talk about!

If you are interested in being part of one of our communication development groups for under-4s in the Better Start Southend areas, please contact any member of the Communication & Language Team by calling 01702 534549.