Daniel, aged 4, rides his bicycle in the cul-de-sac where he lives, in Manchester

The Power of Chat for Language Development

Boosting children’s language development and building stronger bonds between them and their parents can be as simple as an online nudge.

Flavianna adores her five-year old daughter Anna and son, Daniel, four. “Before children, we had more time but less love,” says the mother of two from Manchester. With her husband Andrea frequently away for work, she often has to care for them alone, and finding space to focus on their language development can be difficult. An innovative Save the Children tool called TwoCan is changing that.

Our TwoCan chatbot sends text, video and image tips direct to Flavianna’s smartphone, showing her how to make daily activities – from washing up to doing the shopping – opportunities to develop her children’s growing minds.

Sharing language development prompts

Inspired by TwoCan prompts, Flavianna may get Daniel thinking about language by saying, “I’m putting towels in the refrigerator” while tidying up and ask him if he spots a mistake. Or on a visit to the park, she’ll ask him and Anna how many birds, rocks or flowers they can see. “It’s easy,” she says. Flavianna, originally from Brazil, adds, “When we came to the UK, Andrea and I only spoke Portuguese. TwoCan has given me many extra English words to help the children.”

By the age of three, children in low income, often time-poor, families can already be 17 months behind in their communication skills. TwoCan gives parents simple nudges to assist their youngsters and shows them how important direct interaction is. “I thought children’s [language development] just happens,” says Flavianna. “But I need to help.”

Using WonderWords

TwoCan’s parent project, Wonder Words, has developed other innovations such as bath toys and changing mats with messages encouraging parents to talk to their babies, and 60 billboards placed around London that carried motivational messages celebrating parents’ role in improving their children’s language. Wonder Words is still at the research stage, but parents who’ve tried the products report that they have prompted them to interact and play with their children much more.

With your help, we can dedicate energy and resources to finding new ways for children to reach their potential, no matter their background.

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