Steps taken to improve language development in under fives

Steps taken to improve language development in under fives

Children and parents gathered in Nottingham today (Monday 4 March) to celebrate a new city initiative, called Big Little Moments,  which aims to promote the importance of child development locally.

National Lottery funded Small Steps Big Changes is keen to boost learning and play between caregivers and children in response to the levels of literacy and language development among local children – which falls below the national average.

Around 1,850 reception-aged children in Nottingham start school with a language delay each year – a figure that directly correlates with low levels of nurturing and support.

The official launch saw Councillor David Mellen, Nottingham City Council’s portfolio holder for early intervention and early years, read stories to local children to highlight how vital it is to introduce books at a young age.

Coun Mellen said:

“It’s vital that children get the best possible start in life. We know that the experiences they have in the years before they start school are essential for how they perform later on.

“Nottingham has a strong track record as an Early Intervention city, with different organisations like Small Steps Big Changes working together in partnership to achieve a shared goal of better outcomes for our children and families. I believe Big Little Moments will play an important part in this and build on that strong foundation.”

Figures show that children at age five in Nottingham are 13% behind the national average when it comes to meeting literary standards before starting school.

“The initiative, which enlists a friendly cast of characters and animations, encourages parents and carers to engage with children using 15 Big Little Moments that positively contribute towards successful early development,” said Jane Flewitt, acting communications and engagement manager of Small Steps Big Changes.

“These Big Little Moments are simple, achievable ways for caregivers to interact with children during everyday situations to promote children’s social, emotional and language development,”

The moments are:

  1. Reading a story
  2. Using loving words
  3. Making everyday moments fun
  4. Talking to the bump
  5. Making time to play
  6. Listening and responding
  7. Saying what they see
  8. Saying what they’re doing
  9. Singing songs and rhyming rhymes
  10. Answering all their questions
  11. Giving hugs and high-fives
  12. Having skin-to-skin contact with your new baby
  13. Saying ‘well done’ with stories and play
  14. Making waiting time, play time
  15. Turning screen time into talk time

Small Steps Big Changes is a 10-year programme set up by The National Lottery Community Fund, developing and testing children’s services to help give Nottingham’s children the best possible start in life.

Nottingham CityCare Partnership, a third sector provider of community services in the city, leads the partnership of parents and professionals - including Nottingham City Council, health partners, commissioners, voluntary and community sector organisations, and local communities.

Coun Mellen added:

“I’m particularly pleased to see the elements of the campaign that focus on reading and literacy in a child’s formative years. We know that spending time with children and reading stories is great for the child’s development and creates an important bond with their parents and carers.”

Small Steps Big Changes works with families so they play an active part in deciding on and designing the services and support they get so they can give their babies and very young children the best possible start in life.

Find out more about Small Steps Big Changes at


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