top of page

Tips and advice

Stoke Speaks Out promotes eleven key messages. You can read all about them below, watch our key message videos and view or download each individual poster. 

Songs and rhyme make talking time...
Singing songs and rhymes together helps early language development

  • Singing is a great way for your child to hear lots of words and sounds.

  • You may not be a pop star, but they love to hear your voice the most.

  • They love to hear the same songs over and over again and this repetition is important to grow their brain.

  • Make singing fun by using lots of actions and different voices.

  • Hold your child's hands and help them to copy the actions

  • Try making up your own songs based on the things your child likes!

  • It’s fun to make free musical instruments out of everyday objects like saucepans and spoons or plastic bottles filled with dry pasta or rice.


Listen to City Songbirds nursery rhymes

Image-template_0002_Songs and rhyme.jpg
Image-template_0003_Sow the seed to read

Sow the seed to read...
Reading stories together from birth helps your child's brain grow

  • Looking at books together is fun and a great way for your child to develop new words.

  • Look at the pictures in books and talk to them about what you can see.

  • Children love to hear favourite stories over and over again and this repetition is important to grow their brain.

  • Share bedtime stories, this helps children to relax and they will love the extra cuddles.

  • Encourage your child to turn the pages and help them to point to the pictures.

  • Help them learn the names of things in the book by telling them the words.

  • Make reading fun! Use different voices and act out the story.

  • Borrow free books from the local library or children's centre.

Find out about Stoke Reads

Read our free digital story books featuring the Potters.

Take it out so I'll speak out...
Over use of dummies and bottles can affect speech and language development

  • Speech and language therapists recommend that children do not use a dummy after the age of 1 year. Remember 'Gone by One'. 

  • Before you give your child a dummy, try to work out why they are crying. They may need changing or feeding or might just need a cuddle. 

  • If your child does have a dummy, never let them talk with it in. 

  • When your child is busy or playing take their dummy away.

  • Make giving up a dummy a positive experience by sending it to Santa/Dummy Fairy, giving it to a new baby or swapping it for a new toy.

  • It might not be easy at first but once the dummy has gone do not give it back to your child and make sure that there are no other dummies for them to find. Try another way of comforting them, such as giving them a cuddle.

  • Parents often worry about thumb sucking replacing dummies. Thumb sucking is very common and usually children stop sucking their thumb by the age of 5 years. Thumb sucking does not cause long term damage to milk teeth and is less likely to affect speech and language development.

Image-template_0005_Take it out.jpg
Image-template_0008_Magic touch.jpg

The magic touch...
Loving touch helps babies and children feel secure

  • Skin to skin contact relaxes both you and your child. It’s a special way for you to bond. You can’t spoil them with too many cuddles.

  • Get close to your child, it helps them feel safe and helps you to get to know each other.

  • Hold them close when you sing and talk.

  • Sit your child on your knee when you look at books together.

  • Respond quickly and reassure them during the day with a smile, high five, tickle or cuddle.

  • Hold hands with them when you're walking in the park.

Visit your local Children’s Centres to find out about activities such as baby massage and sensory rooms.

Switch off to switch them on...
Limit TV and gadgets to give children chance to communicate


  • Turning off the TV and other gadgets will help children learn to listen and pay attention.

  • Children find it easier to talk and play if you switch the TV off.

  • Choose a few TV programmes to watch together and talk to them about what is happening.

  • Take care to choose the right kind of programme or game for their age.

  • The best way to learn is by playing and talking with you. You are better than any gadget.

  • When out and about, talk about what you can see and what you are doing.

  • When you get home from nursery or school, talk to your child about what they have done, rather than watching TV.

  • Turn the TV off if no-one is watching it. Constant background noise can slow my language development.

Find out more about using gadgets and technology effectively 

Image-template_0009_switch off to switch
Image-template_0006_Best are free.jpg

The best things in life are free...
Talking together helps your baby's brain grow and it's free

  • When you are out and about with your child, talk about the things around them.

  • While you are doing things around the house let them join in and talk about what you are doing. E.g. take the plates to the table, put the washing in the washer, give them a brush and pan.

  • When on a walk, go on a bug hunt and see what you can find. Ask your child what they can see. Do they know the names of the bugs? Are the big or small? Long or short? Shiny or bumpy?

  • Make a shopping list with your child and talk about the items as you walk around the shop. Why not create picture lists for your child and ask them to find the items on the list?

Eye to eye contact...
Gets people talking


  • Make eye contact with your child when talking. This helps them to pay attention and shows them you are listening.

  • Play peek-a-boo when changing their nappy.

  • Have your child facing you when they are in their pushchair. Talk about things you see when you're out and about.

  • Hold things your child likes next to your face to encourage them to give you eye contact.

Image-template_0009_eye to eye contact.j
Image-template_0001_Home language.jpg

My home language is best for me...
Talking to your child in the language you know best helps their brain grow

  • It is a great advantage to speak more than one language and this is normal across the world.

  • Talk to your child in the language you are most comfortable with and this does not have to be English.

  • If children can talk confidently in their home language, learning a new language will be easier.

  • By learning their home language, children will be able to talk to everyone in their family and community grandparents, aunties, uncles, etc.

  • It is fun to look at books and sing songs and rhymes in your home language because it is familiar.

  • Do not worry if your child can not speak English when they start school. They will learn by listening and watching others. Let them hear English when you are out and about but do not force them to speak it.

Read more here on our Being Bilingual page.

I learn most when you are close...
Children learn to communicate better when you are face to face


  • To get your child’s attention, come down to their level and ask them to look at you.

  • Make funny faces for your child to copy e.g. stick your tongue out and they will try to copy what you are doing.

  • If your child is playing on the floor, sit on the floor with them and join in.

  • When your child is trying to tell you something, look at them so they know you are listening.

  • Try sitting opposite your child and roll a ball back and forth. Say “ready, steady, go.”

Image-template_0000_Learn the most-close
Image-template_0007_Best toy is you.jpg

The best toy your child can have is you...
Talking and playing together helps your child develop

  • You are better than any toy!

  • Talk to your child about what is happening when you are out and about. E.g. when puddle jumping in the park, say ‘splish, splash, splosh’ or ‘ready, steady, jump.

  • Let your child help you with the washing, the cleaning or the shopping. Tell them the names of objects and talk about what you are doing together.

  • Pause to give them time to copy you.

  • When you are in the car or on the bus, talk about what you can see. Play a game to see who can spot a tree, a dog or a house.

  • When your child says a word or phrase, repeat it back and add a new word e.g. child says 'tree!' you say 'yes a tall tree'

Read more about how to follow your child's play.

Choices are chances...
Offering your child choices gives them chance to communicate

Offering your child choices helps them to let you know what they want and practice communicating with you. It also helps them to hear and learn new words and gives them chance to copy you.

  • Hold out two items where your child can see but can’t quite reach, and name them, e.g. ‘would you like an apple or banana?’

  • Pause and give them chance to show you what they want.

  • They might choose by looking with their eyes, reaching with their hands, pointing or saying the word.

  • Respond positively when they make their choice.

  • Help them to point if they can’t do this on their own yet.

  • Say the name of what your child has chosen as you give it to them, so they get lots of chances to learn the word.

  • If they find it tricky to choose one thing, offer them something you know they really like and something I’m not interested in e.g. teddy and a spoon.

  • Choices can be used all through the day...
    Play time: ‘shall we play with the car or ball?’
    Getting dressed: ‘do you want the tiger t-shirt or the elephant t-shirt?’
    Bed time story: ‘do you want the animal book or the tractor book?’


Would you like to know more? 

Here are some advice pages you might be interested in:

How to follow your child's play

Sensory play

Using gadgets and technology effectively

Stoke Reads: developing a love of reading

bottom of page