Funding for a new programme promoting the importance of communicating with kiwi babies and young children called “Talking Matters” has been announced today.

Talking Matters is seed funded by the NEXT Foundation.

“Early years – especially the first 1,000 days – are critical in a child’s development,“ says Talking Matters director Alison Sutton. “A baby’s brain is making about 700 new connections a second and eighty per cent of the brain is developed by the time they are three. The quality and quantity of interaction and talk in those early years more or less sets a child up for future educational success and life opportunities.”

Talking Matters is a new approach, because it involves education, health and community organisations promoting the same message, says Sutton. 

“Words are literally brain food for children and one of the most important things parents can do to make their children super learners is one of the simplest – to talk with them. The more words a child hears and engages with, the more concepts and language structure they have, the better they will learn.“

International research shows by the age of four some children have heard thirty million more words than others. In New Zealand, research shows some children start school able to use 6,000 words, and others using only 3,000. 

Talking Matters will find ways for communities to wrap rich language environments around babies and young children – promoting the importance of communication to families and community groups. Talking Matters will be trialled in three areas in Auckland as a result of the NEXT funding. 

NEXT Foundation Chairman Chris Liddell said NEXT is delighted to support this education initiative for young New Zealand children, its first investment in early education. 

“NEXT Foundation believes education is one of the most important factors in determining New Zealand’s future success,” says Liddell. 

“Investing in the early years, from newborn to three years – is one of our focus areas. 

“We are thrilled to seed fund the Talking Matters initiative, it will help develop a model to roll out nationally across the country. This project has enormous potential for the learning outcomes of New Zealand children. 

“All the research shows those children who start ahead – stay ahead.” 

About NEXT Foundation: 

NEXT Foundation was launched two years ago and will invest $100million over a ten year period to create a legacy of environmental and education excellence for the future generations of New Zealanders. For more information visit our website 

Click here to view a video on Talking Matters 

For more information contact:
Talking Matters Communications officer, COMET Auckland, Julia Moore 021 1942246 

 NEXT Communications director Polly Hudson 021 772 482