Does increased talk significantly impact vocabulary, language development and school readiness?

“As children learn to speak, adults support their development through informal conversations, through songs and rhymes with movements, through shared reading and through the use of narrative. Asking children to discuss stories or real events (describing what happened, what comes next and what other possibilities might be) helps children to develop their language skills, their thinking and understanding of the world, and lays the foundations for higher planning skills.” 

Sound Foundations, The Sutton Trust, 2014

As early years professionals we stress the value of early talking, talking to babies, talking to toddlers, singing to children, sharing books and building an experience and language rich environment for our children.

The adults provide the language and guide and facilitate the experiences.

But what happens if they don’t? What then?

There is an increasing number of reports and frequent speculation that children’s early social, physical, emotional and communication development can be hindered by technology with eye-catching headlines such as “Why the iPad is a far bigger threat to our children than anyone realises” and “Technology is harming our children”

Sue Palmer, author of “Toxic Childhood” says “It’s not just what children get up to onscreen that affects their overall development. It’s what screens displace – all the activities they’re not doing in the real world.”

But what about the effect on adults. The providers of language.

The real world Sue mentions is presented in contrast to the virtual world. Or the world in the cloud. The virtual world is increasingly inhabited by all of us. It takes our time, our attention and most worryingly our talk. Is time when we can and must be talking to and with our children being taken away? Are parents sitting in the same room as their children when their mind is in a different place altogether? Is this the reason 130,000 UK children are struggling to speak in sentences when they start school?

What do you think?

Is there evidence that spending time on digital devices prevents children’s development? Or, perhaps the best question should be: Does the amount of time we spend talking to (or not talking to) our children impact on their essential language development?

With chatta we take a deliberate stance with technology. We don’t encourage young  children to be left alone with it. They genuinely have better and more important things to do (despite the wow factor some of us sense when we see a toddler swiping the screen of a tablet.) We use technology to share good practice and new training. We use technology to capture photos of experiences. We record voices. And we share conversations. Everything we do is designed to support progress in early language through training effective teachers and early years practitioners and strengthening partnership with parents and carers.

We need more chatter in every child’s life. chatta matters.