The home learning environment

A child’s language development begins long before they start school and is shaped by the people and places in their lives – their home learning environment.

The most disadvantaged children are 19 months behind their more well-off peers in language and communication development by the time they start primary school.

We know that what happens at home in the early years of a child’s life is not only the key to their success in education, but their success in life.


Using a behaviour change approach, we are working with the Department for Education (DfE) on a multi-faceted initiative, which will support parents to provide language-rich home learning environments for 0 to 5-year-olds.

The project forms part of the Secretary of State's ambition to halve the number of children starting school without the early communication and language skills they need by 2028.

The initiative involves:

  • A national campaign by the DfE

    To raise awareness of the importance of the home learning environment

  • The Small Talk website

    A new website filled with guidance, activities and videos for parents of children aged 0-5

  • Running local events with trained volunteers

    To model positive adult-child communication to parents and direct them to Small Talk to use at home

  • Building a coalition of businesses

    Who can reach families through their daily routines, and working with them to ensure messages about language learning are embedded into everyday life

From April this year, we’ll be working with local businesses, early years settings and community services in Birmingham, Stoke, Newcastle, Manchester, Peterborough, Nottingham and Swindon.

To find out more about the Home Learning Environment initiative and how you can get involved as a business or volunteer, please email the team on smalltalk@literacytrust.org.uk.