A Better Start Southend
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Between 24 and 36 months your little one is continuing to make big changes in their communication and language development. Not all children develop their language at the same time (it’s not even the same with siblings), so try not to compare your toddler’s progress with others. As they develop between their second and third birthdays you will notice that they might:

  • Enjoy exploring materials such as water, sand and dough
  • Begin to develop something called ‘symbolic play’. This means they might use a block as a car for instance
  • Start understanding and using pronouns ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘he’ ‘she’, prepositions, ‘in, on, under’, and simple sentences and phrases
  • Acquire a huge vocabulary and can use up to 300 words
  • Imitate you in your routines such as driving and shopping
  • Imitate rhythms and animal movements e.g. gallops like a horse
  • Can follow more complex two part instructions e.g. ‘give me the teddy and throw the ball’ or ‘where’s mummy’s coat?’
  • Understand what? where? who? questions and begin to understand ‘same’ and ‘different’
  • Recognise some basic colours
  • Can talk about something in the past, but may not use correct word endings
  • Can have a conversation but may not take turns or stay on topic
  • Use a wide range of speech sounds but may shorten some words such as ‘nana’ for ‘banana’ are mostly understood

Now’s the time when you might be starting to think about your little one going to a Play Group or Pre-school, Day Nursery or Childminder. You might be able to apply for free childcare for your two year old (15 hours) or up to 30 hours for your 3 year old.

English not your home Language?

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Fun Ideas to try with your baby as you Chat, Sing, Play and Read with them
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Continue to add words to your toddler’s sentences as this shows them how words fit together. For example, if they say, ‘dolly hair’ you can say ‘brush dolly’s hair’

Toddlers enjoy helping, so sharing daily jobs gives you a chance to talk about objects and actions.

If your little one is having problems saying a certain word or sound, repeat it back to them rather than correcting them or making them say it again, as you can make them feel anxious. With time, they will be able to do it themselves.

If you live in an A Better Start Southend ward, learn more about accessing Talking Toddlers.


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Toddlers love to dance, move and sing. Let your little one explore rhythms by clapping or stamping their feet as you sing together. The key to singing with your little one at this age, is to use actions, props or puppets to reinforce the words.

Silly songs might make your little one laugh so why not change a word in a song that your toddler already knows ‘Old MacDonald had a ….shop’ for example.

We have a lovely collection of familiar songs and rhymes from different countries in home languages that you might like to share with your little ones….



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Between 2 and 3, your toddler will begin to enjoy imaginative and pretend play. They may begin to use objects imaginatively e.g. a block can become a car, or their toy car may become a pretend phone! As your toddler chooses what to play with, why not help to develop their imaginative play by making a few suggestions, if they are playing with a favourite toy bus, you might ask where it’s going, or if the bus is going to stop to pick up some people waiting at the bus stop.

You might notice your little one beginning to link their play to form a sequence e.g. feeding teddy, rocking teddy and then putting teddy to bed. This is great, as they are beginning to show that they understand that first we do something, then we do the next thing, then the next!

Your little one might even like sorting objects e.g. putting cars in one basket and balls in another. This is just one way that your toddler is solving problems and developing their thinking skills. You may also see them try one puzzle piece in different spaces, or turn it around to see if it fits.

Encourage your little one to use their hands and fingers to explore and create. Play-dough or dough is a great tool for this kind of play. Practice rolling the dough, poking holes in it, or making it into something else!

Haven’t got any dough? Here’s a recipe to make your own play dough:


  • 2 Cups Plain Flour
  • 3 Tablespoons of Oil (15ml TBSP)
  • 1/2 cup of Water
  • A few teaspoons of, food colouring, glitter, sparkles, herbs, lavender flowers, whatever your little one likes

Always consider allergies and child safety when following recipes.


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Toddlers love repetition and won’t tire of a story. Don’t be surprised if your little one wants to hear the same book over and over. Sharing a story more than once helps them to understand and remember words!

You can also help them to remember the order of the story by using puppets, props, pictures or photos as the story is shared. These visual props will help your toddler to retell the story (also known as sequencing.)

Sequencing not only helps them to develop their story telling skills but will also help them to share news, or describe events as they grow.


Looking for new stories?

Don’t forget to join your local library where you’ll find a limitless selection. You can also find out when and where the Storyrhymes sessions are on at your local library.


Visit: Storyrhymes/library

For your nearest library in Southend


If you live in an A Better Start Southend ward, you can access Southend Storysacks where you can borrow free storytelling and activity packs.



Why not share the story, The ‘Bear Who Stared’ with your little one? Remember to talk about what you see as you listen and watch the story together in: English, French, Albanian, Portuguese, Russian, Ukrainian, and Welsh. Enjoy this version… Many Voices Make a Story Fun!

If you have any concerns about your little one’s speech, language and communication development and live in one of the 6 A Better Start areas email the Let’s Talk Team for information and advice

If you live out of the A Better Start areas do contact your Health Visitor to share your concern and they can help to ensure your little one is supported.

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