First Words Together

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First Words Together helps parents support their babies' and toddlers' early communication and language development.

About the programme

Adapted from National Literacy Trust’s Early Words Together, this programme supports children who may need help with communication before the age of two.

The programme aims to build knowledge and confidence in early years practitioners and professionals, whilst also developing the skills and confidence of parents and carers.

Currently delivered in Birmingham, the Black Country and Newcastle with plans to expand into Gateshead, this programme trains early years practitioners to deliver weekly sessions that include evidence-based, fun activities based around five top tips to build the foundations of communication that parents can easily repeat in the home.

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The project will benefit 4,800 families with one-year-olds across the West Midlands and the North East of England.

An associated behaviour change campaign will be co-produced with local communities to benefit a further 12,000 families.

Meanwhile 16,000 carefully selected, diverse and age-appropriate books for babies and toddlers are being gifted to families through the programme and campaign.

  • In Birmingham, the programme is being delivered in partnership with Birmingham Forward Steps, and is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. The project will be externally evaluated by CREC.
  • In Newcastle, the programme is being delivered in partnership with Children & Families Newcastle.

Recognising babies as communicators

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Babies communicate long before they start to talk, through gestures, showing and giving objects, pointing and vocalising. Sharing books and interacting through books from when babies are very young supports communication development.

If you are an early years practitioner taking part in this project, you will get a toolkit with detailed session plans, resources and information on the development of early communication from birth to two.

In addition, you can download guidance on working in partnership with parents and carers, helping them to build their awareness and confidence in supporting early communication leading up to their babies’ first words.

Resources for practitioners

If you are a practitioner or work at a children’s centre, the participant pages provide session plans and evidence-based strategies to support communication development and run the First Words Together programme.

The resources will help you to understand how to help families support their under twos’ early communication and language development

Programme materials for First Words Together

Resources for parents or carers with one-year-olds

For more tips on how to help your toddler learn to talk and encourage your baby to communicate, head to our Words for Life website. You might like to visit our nursery rhyme pages and get singing with your little one.

You can share these with other families who are attending the stay-and-play sessions.

The resources will support you in learning how to make easy, small changes to how you play and talk to your child that will develop their speech and language.

Five talking tips for First Words Together