The BBC has launched Tiny Happy People, a five-year initiative backed by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge, to support parents and carers in developing the language and communication skills of 0-4-year-old children. At the heart of the initiative is a simple message - talk to children from as early an age as possible.
Tiny Happy People offers a wide range of free films, articles, quizzes and parenting tips that have been specially designed with experts to help to nurture children’s language right from pregnancy.
To help launch the initiative, Her Royal Highness recently met with families involved to hear about their experiences of parenting, their contribution to the campaign and how the Tiny Happy People resources and activities have been helping them.
One of the parents she spoke with, Ryan, and his 8 month old daughter Mia, explained how Tiny Happy People had helped him to identify that Mia has five different cries.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast’s Louise Minchin, The Duchess said: “He’s learnt a huge amount from Tiny Happy People …. It’s information like that I wish I had had as a first time mum, it’s gold dust really for families to be given those tips and tools to be able to use, particularly in those first five years.”
The Duchess also spoke of the help that parents receive following their baby’s birth from midwives and health visitors, but that there is a then a gap before they start school which is where they really need the support from initiatives such as Tiny Happy People.
Her Royal Highness has been involved with Tiny Happy People for a number of months, having visited the Tiny Happy People team last November to take part in development sessions and to learn more about the production process. The Duchess helped in the character and background development for two animations on parenting, which are now available on the Tiny Happy People website about making eye contact with babies and singing to babies.
Recognising the significance of the project to supporting parents as they guide their children through the earliest years of life, The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will collaborate with the BBC as they develop and roll out Tiny Happy People.
Also supporting the initiative are a number of celebrities who are using the activities to build their own infants’ communication skills. The celebrity parents involved are soap stars Jennie McAlpine and Kieron Richardson; singer and farmer JB Gill; former Love Islanders, Jess and Dom Lever; BBC Three presenter Annie Price; and Louise Pentland, who was voted the UK’s favourite mum influencer last year.
The free digital resources being offered by Tiny Happy People are easy to use and incorporate into everyday routines.
The short films, articles and quizzes cover, in a bitesize way, the science behind baby brain development. There are lots of fun activities to do with both babies and toddlers to support language development and parent well-being along with great tips for new and soon-to-be parents.
Tony Hall, BBC Director-General, says: “We couldn’t be more proud of the part we’re playing in this amazing partnership. Growing up happy and healthy is the greatest gift we can give to any child. This campaign embodies our mission to inform, educate and entertain. The BBC has created hundreds of videos and written content that we hope will make a real difference.”
Working with a coalition of partners, BBC Education through Tiny Happy People has the ambition to make a significant contribution to halving the number of children in the UK who do not reach the required developmental outcomes in literacy by the end of their reception year.
Those partners include academics, healthcare professional bodies, The Royal Foundation, Public Health England, The National Literacy Trust, The Education Endowment Foundation, The National Lottery Community Fund and KPMG.
All of Tiny Happy People’s resources are rooted in evidence and have been developed with the help of leading experts in the fields of child and language development to ensure parents and carers are being offered the best advice. They include The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, The Institute of Health Visiting, The Royal College of Midwives, I CAN, early years practitioners through the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, and speech and language academics at The University of Liverpool, University of Sheffield, and LuCiD.
As part of Tiny Happy People’s launch, CBeebies Bedtime Stories will be broadcast Bedtime Stories read by celebrity supporters, Jennie McAlpine (July 14), Annie Price (July 15) and JB Gill (July 16).