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

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

Words for Life provides activities and support to improve the language, literacy and communication skills of children and young people. It is created by 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

Children's Speech and Language Therapy

Hampshire Healthy Families offer Baby Talk and Toddler Talk workshops for parents and carers

Ethnic Minority and Traveller Achievement Service offers support to improve educational outcomes for children and young people from Black, Minority Ethnic (BME) and Traveller heritages, including those learning English as an additional language (EAL)

Hungry little minds

Tiny Happy People is a BBC site of simple activities and play ideas to build children's communication skills