Talking Matters goes to Wellington
Talking Matters director Alison Sutton presented at the annual NEXT Foundation Outlook Breakfast in Wellington on 'Why Talking Matters - the importance of language in the first 1000 days and how it shapes the future of NZ children.'
The audience of movers and shakers in education, health and child wellbeing, and philanthropy included Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft, Ministry of Education early learning director Nancy Bell, as well as leaders from Barndardos, Plunket, The Southern Initiative.
"Talk is everybody’s business," Alison said.
"Right now we’ve got a unique opportunity with the child wellbeing framework review and the review of early learning. We want to get talk on the agenda, and high up the child wellbeing agenda. We want recognition for its centrality early in life."
Alison told the breakfast audience that programmes in ECE at age 3 are good but insufficient. At the moment, most early language initiatives focus on 3 to 5-year-olds and school readiness.
"We've also jumped straight to reading, we’ve jumped over the importance of early talk and communication. Ages zero to 3 and early, responsive talk are the missing pieces in early childhood education."
Alison showed three short videos on how Talking Matters is having an impact - on parents and families, on services, and on communities.
She ended with a challenge to those in the room, and the organisations and ministries they represent.
"What can you, though your role to enable language rich environments? How can you support families and reduce their stress so they have the bandwidth to interact and talk?"
"What can you do to influence teacher education practice, social work practice?
"How could you help us to connect child development, health and education? Because language is a public health issue," she said.
"What can you do to take this message - talk more and talk differently to your babies and toddlers - to the families in your communities?"