UK INNOVATION

Supporting early years development

We believe every child deserves the best start in life

CO-DESIGNING EARLY YEARS SOLUTIONS

In the UK, there's an educational gap between children from low-income families and their better-off peers: by age 3, poorer children living in the UK are already 17 months behind in key skills like language.

It is our mission to create ground-breaking solutions that enable all children to reach their full potential, no matter their background.

We're doing this by celebrating the role of parents and providing them with the confidence and skills to be their children’s primary educator.

Guided by human-centred design, and in collaboration with key partners, we're working to deliver solutions that fit into the fabric of everyday family life.

 

HOW WE INNOVATE

We're dedicated to building an in-depth understanding of families’ lives so that we can design tailored solutions that have the biggest impact. This is underpinned by ongoing ethnographic research, allowing us to get to the heart of the needs, wants and challenges families face.

To ensure we have impact at scale, we aim to work with corporate, third sector and government partners to co-design solutions that support fun family interaction – essential for children’s healthy early development.

Our role in co-design projects is to contribute expertise in early years language development and behaviour change to the design of new products, services, and environments.

We rely on our partners to implement and deliver the solutions we co-create. We're proud to have partnered with Reason Digital and Foundry in the co-design of digital solutions that boost early language development, and aim to work across multiple channels including: consumer products, the physical environment (home and external environment), and entertainment.

To ensure we achieve affective and evidenced solutions that work for families, our team applies the Google Ventures Design Sprint methodology to our innovation approach. This is a five-day sprint process for answering critical questions through design, prototyping and testing ideas

Mother Erin with her baby Catherine, aged 24 weeks.

Wonder words

Our Flagship Innovation Programme

4.1 million children in the UK are living in poverty. One third of these children begin school struggling to speak, express themselves and understand simple instructions.

We know that exposing babies and toddlers to as many words as possible during their early years has a huge impact on their language development.

Through the combination of early language development, behavioural science and understanding of poverty in the UK, Wonder Wonders supports parents to enhance their children's early language and communication skills.

It embeds early language prompts into everyday products, routines and environments to 'nudge' parents to talk, sing and play more with their young children. 

 

  • 0-9 months: talking to babies and responding to, and encouraging, their smiles, laughter, gesture and babble as much as possible – tickling, peekaboo and ‘baby talk’ all help babies learn
  • 9 months-2 years: talking to babies as much as possible, exposing babies to words repeatedly in different contexts, talking about what babies are focusing their attention on
  • 2-3 years: talking to toddlers as much as possible, exposing toddlers to words repeatedly in different contexts, talking about pictures with toddlers, correcting toddlers’ mistakes positively by repeating things correctly and asking toddlers open ended questions
  • 3-4 years: talking to children about things that happened in the past or will happen in the future (asking questions about picture books, making up stories or doing make believe play)

We have been busy testing lots of nudges with the aim of encouraging parents to interact more with their babies and toddlers to support their language development. These include:

  • Localised billboard advertising celebrating parents' role in boosting early language development  
  • Baby products with motivational messaging
  • An interactive App and a chatbot for children and their parents including fun language enhancing tips, games and activities 

HOW YOU CAN HELP

If you are interested in supporting children’s early language development, we would love to hear from you. We have big ambitions for Wonder Words and we would welcome hearing from organisations that could work with us to make them a reality.

If you are a corporate, third sector or governmental organisation that would like to work together on co-design projects around early language nudges or a designer, digital developer, innovator, marketing expert or another organisation that would like to join our mission, please get in touch at wonderwords@savethechildren.org.uk.

 

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