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Report links early language to child wellbeing

By Rachel Lawler
 
A new report from the Early Intervention Foundation has recommended that early language be considered when assessing the gap between children in low-income families and their less disadvantaged peers.
 
According to the Foundation, while between 5% and 8% of all children experience early language difficulties, this rises to more than 20% for children from low-income households. The thinktank argues that this contributes to the achievement gap between children.


Primary indicator
The Early Intervention Foundation also suggests that early language difficulties can predict problems with mental health and behaviour, as well as reading and comprehension. It argues that this means that language should be considered as a primary indicator of child wellbeing in the same way as vaccination, obesity and mental health.
 
Dr Jo Casebourne, chief executive of the Early Intervention Foundation, commented: “Our research makes clear the consequences of failing to close these income-related gaps in language development: a whole group of children who will face unnecessary extra challenges in achieving good school results, entering employment, and maintaining good mental health into their adult lives. For this reason, supporting early language development should be put at the heart of any social mobility strategy.”
 
Early intervention
Casebourne added that early intervention should play a key role in any strategy on this. She said: “The first three years are critical – by the time a child starts school, the damage to their future prospects may already be done.”
 
The Early Intervention Foundation is also calling for further research into the impact of childhood development on individuals and into the training needs of early years practitioners and other professionals.
 
Learn more
The Alliance's latest publication, Early Language Development, considers babies' first steps in language learning and supports you to help identify ways that babies' and toddlers' language development can be supported in your early years environment.
Order your copy here.