Language is not only important for communication. The acquisition of early language impacts on all aspects of young children’s non-physical development. It contributes to a child’s ability to manage emotions and communicate feelings, to establish and maintain relationships, to think symbolically, and to learn to read and write.

The ‘Bercow: Ten Years On’ report highlighted the opportunity to improve children’s early speech and language development outcomes:

  • 4 million children and young people in the UK have Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN)
  • Around 50% of children living in areas of social disadvantage are affected in their everyday life compared to a national average of 10%
  • Four in five (81%) of children with emotional and behavioural disorders have an unidentified SLCN
  • Children with poor vocabulary skills at age 5 are twice as likely to become unemployed in adulthood.

Early Years settings are well placed to support children develop their speech and language, and to share with parents the importance of engaging with their child throughout the day.

National Guidance

Language as a child wellbeing indicator report by the Early Intervention Foundation

Early Language Development: Needs, provision, and intervention for preschool children from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds by Public Health England and the Education Endowment Foundation

Advice and resources

I CAN Talking Point for parents and practitioners

The Communication Trust resources for parents and practitioners

Help your baby learn to talk guide from the NHS

Department of Education’s Hungry Little Minds campaign to boost children's communication, language and literacy development

Chat, Play, Read through the various early years stages. A resource for parents from National Literacy Trust’s Small Talk project.

Words for Life from the National Literacy Trust

Bookstart by the BookTrust gives free books to every child in England and Wales at two key stages before school

NPSCC Look, Say, Sing, Play brain building tips sent to you weekly