Across the UK, one of the many ways Home-Starts work with families is to help parents build relationships with their children as they support their child’s development. Research shows that the impact of talking to children even at the earliest ages is predictive of how well a child will do in their education later on in life.

Those early years have a strong impact later on which is why it’s vital to make those early years count.

New research conducted at the University of Sheffield has shown that babies whose caregivers regularly communicate with them, even before they can talk, are more likely to develop greater language skills by the time they reach two.

By encouraging parents to pay close attention and responding to their child’s attempts at communication before they can talk, scientists have found that this interactive behaviour increases the number of words the child can say by the age of two.

The research found that babies try to communicate with those around them via gestures, noises and eye contact before they develop the ability to communicate through the means of speech.  When they are giving their caregivers these forms of non-verbal communication, it opens up the window for their caregivers to communicate back which is when word learning is improved.

One of the ways Home-Start UK is supporting parents with young children is with our LENA home language programme. LENA is a coaching programme for caregivers and children up to three years of age. The programme mirrors the above findings, encouraging parents to talk and interact with their children more frequently, even before their children can talk back. 

Additional research conducted by LENA's founding body supports the above findings with biological evidence. Their research has shown that children who were talked to more frequently at home had better-developed areas of the brain associated with language production and comprehension. 

A longitudinal study published last year in the journal American Academy of Paediatrics has shown that the amount a child hears and converses with adults at ages 18-24 months predict their scores in vocabulary, understanding and expression in tests at ages 9 – 13 years.

Click here to discover more about the findings Home-Start has gathered via the LENA initiative.