All parents want what's best for their children but the problem is, they don't know enough about the development of communication and their essential role in that process. We need desperately to address this, which is exactly what the Hello Campaign is attempting to do. Unfortunately it's a massive task and one which needs to be regular, consistent and ongoing. Smart Talkers have several strategies in our support of this aim:
- Baby Talk to discuss the important relevant issues with parents or parents-to-be e.g. how old should the baby be before we need to talk to them?, TV, forwards facing pushchairs, nursery ryhmes etc. The Smart Talkers representative leads the discussion with all the up to date information, she doesn't tell them what to think but by the end they have all the ideas to make their own minds up
- Teeny Talkers which are groups for 2 - 3 year olds
- Small Talkers which are groups to help prepare 3-4 year olds for school
- Other signing groups, story-times, demonstration training all designed to work on speech, language and communication
While we do offer more formal training to parents, carers and staff, I feel that the groups of parents who really need this information are not likely to sit down to learn in these traditional ways. I find that informal, low-key demonstration is much more valuable. We're not telling them what to do, as again that can be detrimental, we're showing and suggesting. In any event, they are not threatened by a woman sitting on the floor singing with her hand in a puppet, so they are more relaxed and open to suggestion! The first session I did at a Children's Centre was a great example: the parents had been told to come along by their social workers. They knew that it was to be a speech therapist running the groups and that their children all had delayed language. They came along full of resentment; the hostility almost palpable!! At the end of the first session, the folded arms had relaxed a little and they agreed somewhat reluctantly to attend the following week of their own accord. By week 3, I still had the originals apart from one family and some parents who were trying the activities, by week 6 they were all doing the activities and singing the songs at home!!
In case you missed it: http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9550000/9550285.stm www.smarttalkers.org.uk