Speech, Language and Communication in the Early Years

Giving children the best start in life is a key part of improving health and reducing inequalities. The earliest years of a child’s life have a significant impact on their long-term development and life chances.

Being able to communicate is crucial to a child's development, so we've created a booklet and a leaflet with lots of everyday top tips for families, to help them support their child to talk:

We've also dedicated an area on our Virtual Family Hub called Start Talking Together, about this crucial life skill. Visit the Notts Help Yourself website to find out more at: Nottshelpyourself | Start Talking Together... part of the Best Start in Life Offer.  

Ambition 7 of the Best Start Strategy is focused on supporting children and parents/carers with early language, speech and communication.

Nottinghamshire Best Start Strategy

For more information on why early speech, language and communication development is so important and how we will work together to achieve the vision, take a look at: Nottinghamshire Best Start Strategy 2021-2025 | Nottinghamshire County Council.

Our Vision

Our vision is that we will work together to address speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) and improve skills amongst preschool children. This is done via a “whole system approach”.

Whole system approach

A whole system approach means we look at everything that impacts on a child’s speech, language and communication development starting with making sure that high quality information and links to resources are available for all parents and carers, as they are a child’s prime educator and most important care giver. At the heart of the system are Nottinghamshire’s 1000 plus early years settings (childminder, pre-school, day nursery, school nursery), who work with children on a daily basis, so are skilled in supporting their development.  If you are a parent/carer, then they should be the first person you speak to if you have worries.  Many settings have “Language Leads” – a staff member who has a keen interest and added expertise on leading their setting in making sure it is a “language rich environment”

It also includes the Children’s Centre Service’s activities such as Little Talkers Groups and Let’s Play sessions, along with support from the Healthy Families Team, as part of the regular development checks they carry out.  The Library Service through Inspire are also part of this system with lots of sessions for families to go to, such as Hullaballoo, Rattle Rhyme and Roll and the Bookstart Scheme as well as loaning out children’s books.

Home Talk programme

For two to two and a half year olds and their families who may need a little more support, Nottinghamshire County Council commissions Nottinghamshire Healthcare Trust to deliver the Home Talk programme from the Early Intervention Team within the Speech and Language Therapy Service and for those who need additional support, the Specialist Team within the same service provide this. 

We jointly commission speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) provision from this one service which includes both early help approaches and specialist speech and language therapy, so that when children are referred to the SLCN service, colleagues from both the early help and specialist teams work together to make sure that young children and their families receive the correct support at the right time.

Children’s vocabulary skills are linked to their economic backgrounds.

Children living in areas of poorer areas are at much higher risk of speech, language and communication challenges -  with around 50% of children starting school with delayed language or other speech, language and communication needs.  By 3 years of age, there is a 30 million word gap between children from the wealthiest and poorest families.

Language difficulties predict problems in literacy and reading comprehension, but they can also be indicative of problems in children’s behaviour and mental health. Once children enter school, language skills remain a strong predictor of their academic success. Evidence shows that difficulties in early language development can lead to:

  • educational disadvantage
  • emotional and behavioural difficulties
  • risky behaviours
  • involvement in offending
  • economic disadvantage
  • emotional disadvantage

Addressing speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) for children under the age of 5 cannot be ignored and that’s why it is a local priority for Nottinghamshire as part of our Best Start Strategy and beyond.

Continued Professional Development Opportunities


Further information and Support


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