27 year-old Caroline Brady from Shoebury is one of many parents who has taken the opportunity to improve their child’s speech and language development through the Let’s Talk project, one of a number of projects run by A Better Start Southend.

She first found out about A Better Start Southend and the Let’s Talk project through word of mouth from one of the mums at her DELTA post-natal group. It was not long after this that Caroline decided to call up and book her and her son Oliver on their first Let’s Talk with Your Baby course, a course designed specifically for mums, dads and babies aged 6-9 months.

Caroline explains the motivation behind going to the first course: “I just want to do anything I can to help Oliver and I thought the course could do that. I also wanted to socialise with other mums too – it can be quite lonely as a parent and you can become isolated.”

Her enjoyment of Let’s Talk With Your Baby made it an easy decision to do the second course: “I had so much support and got so much out of Let’s Talk with your Baby that I jumped at the chance to do the Talking Tiddlers course (for babies 12-18 months). I was called up by the team who run Let’s Talk too and having the team contact me, well, if you’re not a parent who goes out and gets leaflets, to be called up like that makes you feel wanted. With Talking Tiddlers, I kind of knew what to expect too, especially as it was the same people running it.”

Caroline explains about the sessions: “I’ve learnt a lot through the courses: the importance of small world play, using words as you’re playing with your child, repeating words as you’re playing (labelling), modelling.

“Also, using your imagination to do things, texture of fruit [using real fruit to describe the adjectives, like soft, smooth, juicy, squishy] up and over, down [actions and play like the Grand Old Duke of York describing verbs of movement], using something homemade like the shaker. I liked the fact you could take something home to use like that home-made shaker, just using an empty bottle and some pasta. As well as tips and things to take home and think about you can also create the different tools to use.”

“The staff delivering the courses are absolutely brilliant, really friendly, engaging, encouraging and supportive. They are also non-judgemental, so that really makes you relaxed and feel that you are not anxious about doing something wrong. They allowed free play which was important so I didn’t worry about Oliver being perfectly behaved.”

“The courses exceeded my initial expectation, most definitely, and I would definitely recommend the course to others!”

Parent Champion and HENRY

“The confidence I gained from going to the Let’s Talk sessions gave me the courage to go to the stay and plays with Oliver at the children’s centre. I often have anxiety about new places, but as I was now more familiar with the reception staff and the layout of the building, I felt more relaxed. At the stay and plays I met Zoe, a Parent Champion, and she invited me to come along to one of the Better Start Southend Parent Forums. From this I signed up to become a Parent Champion. It’s great to have your voice heard as a parent!”

“I’ve also met some parents who have gone to the getting back into work [Work Skills] events, such as those about running your own business and the florist’s session, and they have been really positive, so it is definitely worth getting involved.”

Following the Let’s Talk courses, Caroline will soon be going with Oliver (now almost two) to the HENRY [Health, Exercise, Nutrition for the Really Young] course with A Better Start Southend. She explains: “Carole, who is running HENRY coming into our stay and play sessions to say about them. I think that seeing the person involved in the group and meeting them makes a difference. If you see something on a poster it might not jump out of the page at you, so when someone explains it in person it is even better.”


Article published November 2017

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