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Talking Matters goes to Wellington


Talking more and differently with children in their first 1000 days needs to be at the top of the Government's agenda for its child wellbeing strategy. 

That's the message Talking Matters director Alison Sutton took to an audience of movers and shakers in education, health, child welfare and philanthropy at the annual NEXT Foundation Outlook Breakfast in Wellington in October 2018.

"Talk is everybody’s business," Alison told them. 

"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." 

Among those at Alison's presentation on 'Why Talking Matters - the importance of language in the first 1000 days and how it shapes the future of NZ children' were Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft, Ministry of Education early learning director Nancy Bell, as well as leaders from Barndardos, Plunket, and The Southern Initiative.

"We've jumped straight to reading, we’ve jumped over the importance of early talk and communication," Alison said.

"Ages zero to 3 and early, responsive talk are the missing pieces in early childhood education."

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. 

Alison showed three short videos (watch them below) 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 do 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?"