Chatter Matters initiative launched to encourage language development in young children

Dublin City Libraries

The Lord Mayor of Dublin Oisín Quinn today launched Chatter Matters, an initiative of Dublin City Councils Community & Social Development and Dublin City Public Libraries, to encourage language development in babies and toddlers. Research shows that in their first three years, children absorb more language than they will do at any other time in their lives. Talking to, playing with and reading to under 3s as often as possible have been shown to support childrens confidence and communications skills.

Launching this poster campaign, the Lord Mayor said "I am delighted to launch Chatter Matters to focus attention on the need to encourage young childrens language development. Childrens education begins long before attending school or even preschool; in fact some of the most important learning for this age group is in the home and the community. Childrens experiences of playing and talking reinforce their skills and create the building blocks required for effective communication and future literacy."

He also said "Childrens literacy is an issue I feel strongly about which is why I hosted 'The Birth of Literacy' seminar some months back. That event provoked discussion about early years language acquisition, and delegates recommended that an initiative was needed to draw attention to this early developmental stage. It is great to see the 'Chatter Matters' campaign now taking shape."

Important building blocks in the early years of oral language development include;

  • Talking to and with children
  • Playing
  • Singing e.g. nursery rhymes
  • Asking questions
  • Repeating words
  • Reading regularly, using picture, word or story books

Also commenting on early childhood language development Monica Cassidy, Manager of the Larkin Centre Preschool, said "From infancy, children use sound, gesture and body language to communicate their needs and feelings. At about six months, babies begin to tune in to the sounds of the family language. This early learning is the beginning of a childs awareness of sound in their environment. Parents, care givers, adults and siblings can support this by talking, singing songs, jingles and rhymes as they change, wash, feed and play with the baby. In the first two years, young children are listening and learning about what language is and what language does. They need to do this before they can begin to talk expressively."

NOTE: To support national policy on this issue, the Lord Mayor and Dublin City Council hosted a seminar The Birth of Literacy in November 2013. The half-day event focussed on the value of oral language competency development in children in the early years, and the role that families and communities play in supporting and encouraging communication. Experts across a number of sectors presented on key themes providing valuable insights into the influences that early years language development and other experiences have on lifelong learning. Follow the conversation about the 'Chatter Matters' initiative on Twitter #chattermatters.

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