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Our Approach

#971 ELKLAN – Let’s Talk at Home Course

Megan Parsons

What did we do?

As a member of the Community Communication Champions Team, working in the University and Wensum Wards, I helped deliver a variety of projects and initiatives aimed at improving children’s early speech, language and communication (SLC) skills by working with parents, carers, community groups, schools and settings.

One of these projects was the Home Learning Programme (HLP), which focused on the delivery of a ‘Let’s Talk at Home’ course designed by Elklan. My role included recruiting suitable parents onto the course and supporting Elklan tutors to deliver the course activities.

The Elklan courses were delivered across both the University and Wensum Wards and Mile Cross and Catton Grove Wards, supported by 4 Community Communication Champions (CCCs).

“My child never had any friends before as she couldn’t communicate well and would get frustrated, but she now has a friend and has been on a solo play date today as she can now communicate so that others can understand her.”

Feedback from a parent.

Summary of impact

Working closely with schools and settings within the Wensum and University areas of Norwich to provide advice and support to the parents of early years children raised awareness about the importance of SLC development and the benefits of a supportive home learning environment.

The attendance on the ‘Let’s Talk at Home’ courses were high and evidence of impact was collated via a parent questionnaire and observations of changed interaction between the parent and their child at the beginning and end of each course. Analysis of the questionnaire results suggested that the impact of the courses had been incredibly positive with over 90% of parents saying that the course had been ‘helpful’, ‘very helpful’ or ‘extremely helpful’ for a range of important parameters:

  • Changing the way they talk to their child.
  • Stopping and waiting so the child could take the lead.
  • Giving them new ideas developing their child’s talking and vocabulary.


Please see the CCCs Big Idea for more information on the impact and outcomes for the whole CCCs project. “The Community Communication Champions in Norwich: An Evaluation“, written by the UEA, is included in the resources section of the CCCs Big Idea and reflects in detail on the impact of each aspect of the CCCs project including the HLP.

Steps taken

Initially I sent out emails to all schools/settings within the Wensum and University wards and I asked if I could arrange a meeting with them to further discuss how we could work together. Schools and settings could access a wide range of support tools and interventions offered by Norwich Opportunity Area (NOA), including the Elklan ‘Let’s Talk at Home’ Course.

Prior to the CCCs team being in place, the NOA procured the services of Elklan to plan and support the six-week HLP. ‘Let’s Talk at Home’ was delivered by local Elklan registered tutors with the CCCs in a supporting role (CCCs received additional Elklan co-tutor training for this role). Elklan provided the six session plans for content, recording sheets for collecting observation data, parent evaluation forms and a small token for parents to take away at the end of sessions as a reminder of the ‘talking tip’.

Four cycles of this programme were planned for the duration of the CCCs project across the four wards: summer 2019, autumn 2019, early spring 2020 and late spring 2020, resulting in 16 groups of parents and their children. The 4th Cycle had to be cancelled due to Covid-19.

CCCs organised the venues for the sessions and procured the resources for the children to play and engage with during these sessions. These were decided upon in agreement with Elklan and formed the basis for the Springboard Box (see Springboard Boxes case study for more details of this offering). They also planned and organised a one-off celebratory event for all parents to attend at the end of the six weeks.

In the first and last sessions of the course, tutors observed and documented the parent and child interactions, with the four sessions in between planned for delivering and practicing the four talking tips.

What would we do differently

As part of the contract, there was a thorough process of evaluation of each cycle by Elklan tutors, the CCCs and the course designer at Elklan. Difficulties were identified, for both logistically managing the sessions (i.e., having enough tutors on hand to complete the observations in the given time) as well as tailoring a prescribed scheme to the individual needs of the parents enrolled in these wards of Norwich. There were changes made between each of the three cycles of the programme and the fourth cycle had to be cancelled.

Adjustments made to the timing and nature of the first sessions, to facilitate closer observations in cycle two led to higher rates of parental dropout early on. This was readjusted for cycle three, which resulted in positive parental engagement.

Doing some 1:1 work with families before they came on the Elklan course meant they fully understood what was expected of them and how the course could help. It also helped to build a strong relationship with the family, making them more relaxed and less anxious.

The Elklan courses worked particularly well when we had 3 adults in the session so that we could each make substantial and detailed observations about every family on the course. Mixing up the resources from week to week also worked well so that the children had a range of toys to play with and were stimulated in different ways each week.

In the second Elklan course (University and Wensum Wards) we decided that for ‘book week’ we would set up a comfortable and inviting area with blankets, dens, and cushions to create a calming and homely environment. Previously we kept the toys out, but this acted as a distraction for many children.

Because the course was quite informal, parents began to bond after a few sessions and some real friendships were made between parents and children; particularly those that were more anxious or socially isolated to begin with.

The first round of the ‘Let’s Talk at Home’ course (University and Wensum Wards) was better attended than the second, but the downside was that it felt more rushed and busier, and it was not possible to spend time with each parent 1:1. Nevertheless, the first round of training did give parents more opportunities to interact with other families and make accelerated progress with their communication skills. Additionally, the broader mix of parents meant that the shyer parents were encouraged by the more confident parents resulting in there being more conversation.

For the first cohort of parents, we stuck to the Elklan plans quite closely. However, for the second cohort, we had to improvise on occasions as we had time to fill due to lower numbers of attendees. As a result, we eventually decided to make the sessions 15mins shorter. As mentioned, we also originally intended to meet parents before the Elklan sessions so that we could build a relationship with them. However, referrals did not come in as quickly as anticipated for both courses, so it wasn’t always possible to meet all families prior to commencement.


All funding for the CCCs project and resources was provided by the NOA.  Costs across all wards (additional to the time of the CCCs and toys/resources used in the sessions) included: Provider Contract (Elklan): £35,425 Operational costs (room hire, consumables): £5542 Springboard boxes: £12,657. Total costs: £53,624

Cost per parent: £609

See how others have implemented this Big Idea

Springboard Boxes - supporting early language development in the home