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Stockton-on-Tees Talks

Stockton-on-Tees Talks is a local programme to help children develop their talking and understanding of words.

The programme has been launched by the Council in partnership with Speech and Language UK, the national children's communication charity, to offer resources and information for parents and carers, communities and early years settings, libraries and health services to help children develop their communication skills before they start school.

It is all part of the Council's commitment to ensuring every child in our Borough has the best start in life.

Stockton-on-Tees Talks has 5 key messages:

  • let's connect
  • it takes two
  • ditch the distractions
  • share songs and stories
  • let's play together

Click the headings below for information about the things you can do at different stages of your child's development.

To find out more about the typical ages and stages of language development, visit the ages and stages page on the Speech and Language website. 

Pregnancy to birth

Let's connect

Relationships come first. Spending time together with your baby, talking and doing things, builds connections in their brain. The more often you talk, the stronger these connections grow, and the easier they'll find it to think, talk and learn. 

Top tips

Some top tips are:

  • it is never too early to share songs and stories with your baby; they are comforted by rhythm, rhyme and your voice
  • even before your baby is born, they can recognise familiar voices, hearing your voice in the womb helps me recognise you when they arrive in the world

Useful resources

There are a number of useful resources including: 

 

Birth to 3 months

Let's connect

Relationships come first. Spending time together with your baby, talking and doing things, builds connections in their brain. The more often you talk, the stronger these connections grow, and the easier they'll find it to think, talk and learn.

Top tips

Some top tips are:

  • communication is more than words, responding to your baby's looks, movement and sounds all helps their development
  • when your baby sees your face and eyes it helps them understand what you are saying 
  • when you copy your baby's sounds and actions it makes them want to copy you too
  • help your baby to make sense of the world by talking to them when they do everyday things together, like bath time, dressing, nappy changes
  • sharing a few quiet minutes with your baby each day, making noises or having a cuddle, helps them to feel loved
  • the sounds your baby makes are their way of communicating with you; when you copy their sounds it makes me want to make even more.  

It takes two

Taking turns as you play together is like taking turns in conversations. The more turns the better the conversation, and this supports your child's brain development too!  

Top tips

Some top tips are:

  • taking turns with you helps the language part of your baby's brain to get stronger so that they can learn to speak and understand words 
  • when your baby is in their car seat or pushchair, they love to hear your voice - talk to them even if they can't always see you, the words are all going in
  • copying sounds and actions that they make helps them start to understand how to take turns in conversations
  • the words your baby will learn most easily are for things that they are interested in, tell them the names of things they are looking at or playing with
  • talking to your baby in your home language will help to make strong foundations for any language that they might learn through my life

Ditch the distractions

Listening comes before talking. Hearing you clearly will help your child learn words. Talking about what's happening around us helps your child understand more.  

Top tips

Some top tips are:

  • hearing you talk without background noises makes it easier for your baby to hear the sounds you are making more clearly  
  • laps are better than apps for learning to talk - have time without devices so that you can sit together, focus on each other and talk
  • saying their name gets their attention

Songs and stories

Sharing songs and stories is a fun way to learn new words and develop your child's listening and attention skills. The repetition, rhythm and rhyme help to boost their talking and understanding of words.  

Top tips

  • it is never too early to share songs and stories with your baby; they are comforted by rhythm and your voice
  • talk to them about the pictures in a book, they don't need you to read the words, looking at the pictures together can help build their vocabulary 
  • songs and rhymes repeat the same words over - this repetition helps your baby know what you are going to say next, and they might just join in 
  • when you focus on a story together it's a special time for you both 

Let's play together

When you play together, follow your child's interests and let them take the lead. Let them show you what they like to do and how to do it in their own way, you will have fun together and your child will learn lots of new words.   

Top tips

Some top tips are:

  • your baby will learn more from you than any toy you can buy in a shop
  • repetition helps your baby learn so they might like to do the same thing again and again
  • around the house you can find lots of interesting things to play with   

Useful resources

There are a number of useful resources including: 

 

Age 4 months to 9 months

Let's connect

Relationships come first. Spending time together with your baby, talking and doing things, builds connections in their brain. The more often you talk, the stronger these connections grow, and the easier they'll find it to think, talk and learn.  

Top tips

Some top tips are:

  • communication is more than words, responding to your baby's looks, movement and sounds all helps their development
  • learning to talk and understand words happens before your baby says their first words 
  • when your baby can see your face and eyes it helps them to understand what you are saying 
  • when you copy your baby's sounds and actions it makes them want to copy you too
  • help your baby to make sense of the world by talking to them when they do everyday things together, like bath time, dressing, nappy changes
  • your baby can learn new words and recognise things when you talk to them about what we see when we are out and about
  • sharing a few quiet minutes with your baby each day, making noises or having a cuddle, helps them to feel loved
  • the sounds your baby make are their way of communicating with you; when you copy your baby's sounds it makes them want to make even more 

It takes two

Talk with me; do things where we take turns and copy each other. Taking turns as you play together is like taking turns in conversations.  The more turns the better the conversation and this supports your child's brain development too!  

Top tips

Some top tips are:

  • taking turns with your baby helps the language part of their brain to get stronger so that they can learn to speak and understand words 
  • when you get down to the same level as your baby they can see you, this helps them copy your sounds and facial expressions and be able to respond to you
  • when your baby is in the car seat or pushchair, they love to hear your voice
  • copying the sounds and actions that your baby makes helps them start to understand how to take turns in conversations
  • when you talk about what you are doing as you play together it helps your baby to learn new words and link the words to the things you are doing  
  • the words your baby learn most easily are for things they are interested in, tell them the names of things when they are looking at or playing with them 
  • talking to your baby in your home language will help to make strong foundations for any language that they might learn through my life   
  • talking to your baby in the language you are most comfortable with helps you both to connect

Ditch the distractions

Listening comes before talking. Hearing you clearly will help your child learn words. Talking about what's happening around us helps your child understand more.  


Top tips

Some top tips are:

  • when you pause or wait when you are talking to your baby it gives them time to think, it also shows that you are really listening to them and expect them to respond 
  • hearing you talk without background noises makes it easier for your baby to hear the sounds you are making more clearly
  • laps are better than apps for learning to talk
  • sometimes your baby like it to be just you and them sharing a special toy or game as it helps develop them concentration

Songs and stories

Sharing songs and stories is a fun way to learn new words and develop your child's listening and attention skills. The repetition, rhythm and rhyme help to boost their talking and understanding of words.  

Top tips

Some top tips are:

  • it is never too early to share songs and stories with your baby; they are comforted by rhythm and your voice
  • talk to your baby about the pictures in a book, they don't need you to read the words - looking at the pictures together can help build their vocabulary
  • to bring new words to life for your baby, make up a story about what you see, hear, touch, smell or even taste 
  • songs and rhymes repeat the same words, this repetition helps your baby know what you are going to say next, and they might just join in

Let's play together

When you play together, follow your child's interests and let them take the lead. Let them show you what they like to do and how to do it in their own way, you will have fun together and your child will learn lots of new words.   

Top tips

Some top tips are:

  • your baby learn words for things they are interested in - watch them to see what they are doing and say the words while they am doing it
  • learning words in every day routines helps your baby to learn and understand how to use them, especially when they can help you
  • your baby will learn more from you than any toy you can buy in a shop
  • having some time together to talk about your day helps your baby make sense of what they have seen and heard
  • your baby doesn't always need toys to play - 'peek-a-boo' and 'eye-spy' are great for helping them learn to take turns and use new words
  • repetition helps your baby learn so they might like to do the same thing again and again 
  • around the house you can find lots of interesting things to play with 

Useful resources

There are a number of useful resources including: 

 

Age 10 months to 2 years

Let's connect

Relationships come first. Every time you spend time together with your child, talking and doing things, it builds connections in their brain. The more often you talk, the stronger these connections grow, and the easier they'll find it to think, talk and learn.  

Top tips

Some top tips are:

  • communication is more than words, responding to your baby or toddler looks, movement and sounds all helps their development  
  • learning to talk and understand words happens before they say their first words - any interaction that you share helps them to learn and develop skills for talking
  • when your baby or toddler can see your face and eyes it helps them understand what you are saying - seeing how your mouth moves helps them to learn to make sounds  
  • when you copy your baby's or toddler's sounds and actions it makes them want to copy you too
  • help your baby or toddler to make sense of the world by talking to them when you do everyday things together, like bath time, dressing, nappy changes
  • your baby or toddler can learn new words and recognise things when you talk to them about what you see when you are out and about
  • sharing a few quiet minutes with your baby or toddler each day, making noises or having a cuddle, helps them to feel loved  
  • the sounds your baby or toddler makes are their way of communicating with you; when you copy their sounds it makes them want to make even more   

It takes two 

Talk with me; do things where we take turns and copy each other. Taking turns as you play together is like taking turns in conversations. The more turns the better the conversation and this really supports your child's brain development too!  

Top tips

Some top tips are:

  • taking turns with you helps the language part of your baby's or toddler's brain to get stronger so that they can learn to speak and understand words
  • when you get down to the same level as your baby or toddler they can see you, this helps them copy your sounds and facial expressions and be able to respond to you 
  • when your baby or toddler is in the car seat or pushchair, they love to hear your voice
  • copying the sounds and actions that your baby or toddler makes helps them start to understand how to take turns in conversations
  • your baby or toddler will like to see, play and talk about things that are familiar to them, this might mean you do the same things over and over again
  • the words your baby or toddler will learn most easily are for things they are interested in
  • talking to your baby or toddler in the language you are most comfortable with helps you to connect
  • using gestures and familiar things can help your baby or toddler understand and respond to you, they can see what you are saying
  • your baby or toddler can learn new words and say longer sentences when you repeat what they say and add a word or two
  • your baby's or toddler's dummy can help if they are tired or sad, but when it's time to talk please take the dummy out so they can communicate freely  
  • taking turns in a bigger conversation with lots of people can be tricky for your baby or toddler; pause and wait for them to join in 
  • any siblings can help your baby or toddler to join in conversations and practice talking by giving them a chance to respond 
  • offering your baby or toddler choices for example, 'would you like an apple or banana' helps them to learn the words they need, when they need them

Ditch the distractions 

Listening comes before talking. Hearing you clearly will help your child learn words. Talking about what's happening around us helps your child understand more.  

Top tips

Some top tips are:

  • when you pause or wait when you are talking to your baby or toddler, it gives them time to think and shows that you are listening and expect them to respond
  • hearing you talk without background noises makes it easier for your baby or toddler to hear the sounds you are making more clearly  
  • sometimes your baby or toddler will like it to be just them and you sharing a special toy or game as it helps develop their concentration
  • saying your baby's or toddler's name gets their attention, then they will know they need to listen  

Songs and stories

Sharing songs and stories is a fun way to learn new words and develop your child's listening and attention skills. The repetition, rhythm and rhyme help to boost their talking and understanding of words.  

Top tips

Some top tips are:

  • it is never too early to share songs and stories with your baby or toddler, they are comforted by rhythm and your voice  
  • talk to your baby or toddler about the pictures in a book, they don't need you to read the words 
  • to bring new words to life for your baby or toddler, make up a story about what you see, hear, touch, smell or even taste
  • songs and rhymes repeat the same words, this repetition helps your baby or toddler know what you are going to say next, and they might just join in
  • when you focus on a story together it's a special time for your baby or toddler

Let's play together

When you play together, follow your child's interests and let them take the lead. Let them show you what they like to do and how to do it in their own way, you will have fun together and your child will learn lots of new words.   

Top tips

Some top tips are:

  • your baby or toddler likes it when you join in and talk about what they are playing as you play together; it helps them to hear, learn and understand new words
  • your baby or toddler will learn words for things they are interested in, watch them to see what they are doing and say the words whilst they are doing it
  • learning words in every day routines helps your baby or toddler to learn and understand how to use them, especially when they can help you
  • your baby or toddler will learn more from you than any toy you can buy in a shop
  • having some time together to talk about our day helps your baby or toddler make sense of what they have seen and heard
  • your baby or toddler doesn't always need toys to play - 'peek-a-boo' and 'eye-spy' are great for helping them learn to take turns and use new words
  • repetition helps your baby or toddler learn so they might like to do the same thing again and again  
  • around the house you can find lots of interesting things to play with  

Useful resources

There are a number of useful resources including: 

 

Age 2 years to 5 years old

Let's connect

Relationships come first. Every time you spend time together with your child, talking and doing things, it builds connections in their brain. The more often you talk, the stronger these connections grow, and the easier they'll find it to think, talk and learn.  

Top tips

Some top tips are:

  • when your child can see your face and eyes it helps them understand what you are saying
  • your child can learn new words and recognise things when you talk to them about what they see when you are out and about

It takes two

Talk with me; do things where we take turns and copy each other. Taking turns as you play together is like taking turns in conversations. The more turns the better the conversation and this really supports your child's brain development too!  

Top tips

Some top tips are:

  • taking turns with you helps the language part of your child's brain to get stronger so that they learn to speak and understand words  
  • copying the sounds and actions that your child makes helps them start to understand how to take turns in conversations
  • your child likes to see, play and talk about things that are familiar with, this might mean they do the same things over and over again
  • when you talk about what your child is doing as they play together it helps them to learn new words and link the words to the things they are doing
  • the words your child will learn most easily are things that they are interested in
  • talking to your child in the language you are most comfortable with really helps them to connect  
  • your child can learn new words and say longer sentences when you repeat what they say and add a word or two
  • offering your child choices for example, 'would you like an apple or banana' helps them to learn the words they need, when they need them

Ditch the distractions

Listening comes before talking. Hearing you clearly will help your child learn words. Talking about what's happening around us helps your child understand more.  

Top tips

Some top tips are:

  • when you pause or wait when you are talking to your child it gives them time to think and shows that you are listening and expect them to respond  
  • hearing you talk without background noises makes it easier for your child to hear the sounds you are making more clearly
  • taking turns in a bigger conversation with lots of people can be tricky for your child; pause and wait for them to join in

Songs and stories

Sharing songs and stories is a fun way to learn new words and develop your child's listening and attention skills. The repetition, rhythm and rhyme help to boost their talking and understanding of words.  

Top tips

Some top tips are:

  • to bring new words to life for your child, make up a story about what you see, hear, touch, smell or even taste 
  • songs and rhymes repeat the same words, this repetition helps your child know what you are going to say next
  • it is never too early to share songs and stories with your child; they are comforted by rhythm and your voice
  • let's enjoy using the mobile or tablet together, tell your child what they can see to help them hear new words and understand what is happening

Let's play together

When you play together, follow your child's interests and let them take the lead. Let them show you what they like to do and how to do it in their own way, you will have fun together and your child will learn lots of new words.   

Top tips

Some top tips are:

  • your child will like it when you join in and talk about what they are playing with as you play together
  • your child will learn words for things they are interested in - watch them carefully to see what they are doing and say the words while they are doing it  
  • learning words in every day routines helps your child to learn and understand how to use them, especially when they can help you
  • having some time together to talk about our day helps your child make sense of what they have seen and heard
  • your child doesn't always need toys to play - 'peek-a-boo' and 'eye-spy' are great for helping them learn to take turns and use new words
  • around the house you can find lots of interesting things to play with

Useful resources

There are a number of useful resources including: