06:19am Tuesday 07 April 2020

Health and care experts supporting development of children's communication skills

The Making 0-3 Count professional symposium will be attended by around 250 early-years professionals and students from across Norfolk, including child minders, health visitors, social workers, midwives, library staff and speech and language therapists.

Speaking at the event will be Jean Gross, the Government’s ‘Hello’ campaign communication champion, Faith Cross, a nationally-recognised expert on language, communication and attachment, and The Norfolk ‘Every Child a Talker’ Team – a multi-disciplinary team made up of local communication experts, such as speech and language therapists, and the Norfolk Education Early Years team.

The symposium will take place from on Saturday, September 24, at the Thomas Paine Study Centre, UEA, Norwich. It has been organised in partnership between Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust (NCH&C), UEA and Norfolk County Council’s Norfolk Education Early Years Team.

At the event, attendees will hear from communication experts about how their different teams and organisations can continue to deliver joined up and ‘best practice’ care. They will also be able to take part in workshops to look at various ways to engage with children to help them develop their communication skills from an early age.

The workshops look to address how children’s communication development can be improved through the use of music and song, by involving parents, and by creating communication-friendly environments. The care experts will also be invited to think about how to help children develop a wider vocabulary, as well as how to identify communication difficulties and make referrals to other support services.

The event has been organised as part of the ‘Hello’ campaign, which is organised nationally by the Communication Trust and is running throughout 2011. The aim of the campaign is to make people even more aware of the importance of children developing good communication skills.

Alison Fuller, NCH&C’s lead for children’s speech and language therapy, said: “It is estimated that around seven percent of five year olds in England have significant difficulty with speech or language. NCH&C works closely with its partners to provide speech and language therapy to children with communication difficulties and delivers targeted interventions. We believe that working with children from an early age, their families and all those who work with them makes a big difference to their development.”

Jennie Vitkovitch, UEA’s speech & language therapy course director, has led on organising the symposium. She said: “We are very pleased to have Jean Gross, an influential national figure, as one of our keynote speakers and are sure the event will be a great success. The symposium provides an opportunity for many early years practitioners to hear about best practice and share ideas to help support the development of speech, language and communication skills in very young children. The day is being led by many people who are passionate about working with children and will be an excellent forum for discussion.

“The ability to communicate is an essential life skill for children and young people, as it is at the core of social interaction. Effective communication skills help children to learn, achieve, make friends and interact with the world around them.”

Jean Gross added: “I am delighted to support the Early Years Symposium and make Hello a success in Norfolk. Communication is the core skill for life; it underpins everything else. The Symposium will not only raise awareness of this vital issue it will improve understanding and disseminate information on typical communication development, how to spot if children are struggling and where to go for help and support.”

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