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24-year-old mum Sherish was very concerned about her daughter Sarah, aged two, as she was not saying many words and those that she could say were not very clear. Thanks to Better Start Bradford’s Talking Together project, which supports two-year-olds in language development through play and conversation in the family home, Sherish is now happy that her little girl can confidently start nursery.

(Sherish took part in the Talking Together project before COVID-19)

Sherish’s Story

My two-year-old daughter Sarah was referred the Talking Together project as she was not saying many words at the two-year language assessment stage. She was only using single words and some gestures and although I could understand some of the words, they were not clear enough for others to understand. She did however show a good level of understanding when I talked and played with her.

We had six sessions with the team at Talking Together where two of their Language Development Workers came to work with us in our home. They were very friendly and informal and put us at ease straight away. In the first week Sarah would not leave my side for the first half of the session and hid her face from the two workers. In the second half I managed to encourage her to play on the floor with me and one of the workers. She came and joined us to play and used some two-word sentences and imitated some single words from our conversation with her.

Over the weeks, Sarah's confidence grew

Over the weeks, as Sarah’s confidence grew, she became more sociable with the workers and would even sit on the floor waiting for the toys to come out of the bag that they brought each week. I would also bring out some of our toys, which my daughter happily shared with the workers and allowed them to play with her. She was becoming more socially confident and would have lots of eye contact and direct speech towards the worker that was on the floor playing with her. She was using a lot more words, but in the main they were single or imitated words to start with.

I was really pleased with her progress

By the end of the six weeks, Sarah would play on the floor by herself and had a lot more confidence. She would bring the toys to us and showed increased imaginative play. I was really pleased with her progress as I had noticed that she wasn’t imitating our words as much and was using more voluntary two-word sentences.

I highly recommend the Talking Together sessions as they helped my daughter’s speech and confidence. They also helped me to think differently about how I respond to her to support her language development and how I can use play to encourage Sarah to learn new words and phrases.

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Talking Together project to other parents. Thanks to the Talking Together team, I now feel more confident about my daughter starting nursery. She speaks very clearly now and is now putting four or five words together to make proper sentences. It is so lovely that we can now have proper little conversations.

About Talking Together

Talking Together provides language assessments to all two-year-olds in the Better Start Bradford area. Following these assessments, families with two-year-olds who are shown to potentially benefit from extra support are then offered one-to-one sessions at home over a six-week period. These sessions aim to help parents and carers engage their children on an ongoing basis in activities, play and conversation that helps communication and language development.

The types of activities promoted through these sessions are shown to help improve children’s language skills and ability to interact positively with people around them. This can help children be better prepared for starting school and have a long-term impact on their literacy skills.