Smalltalk: helping parents enhance their children’s learning in the home

smalltalk is a set of evidence-based strategies that help parents enhance their young children’s learning.

These strategies help parents, particularly those who are experiencing disadvantage, improve their children’s learning and development and enhance parent confidence. Delivered in a supported playgroup setting, smalltalk strengthens the way parents engage with their children:

  • talking, listening and playing 
  • reading together
  • engaging in interesting activities.

The Parenting Research Centre conducts smalltalk training for professionals who work in the early childhood sector for local councils and community service organisations in Victoria. We also provide ongoing implementation support to councils and agencies that deliver smalltalk and we conduct continual quality improvement.

An increasing number of local councils and community service organisations are now delivering smalltalk across Victoria. It can be introduced easily into the existing supported playgroup service system due to its practical, low-intensity approach.

Services in the early childhood sector outside of Victoria can also implement this structured evidence-based intervention in a playgroup environment to support families.


The smalltalk intervention and materials were developed in collaboration with practitioners and parents as part of our Early Home Learning Study (EHLS). The study investigated how to help parents who are experiencing some disadvantage to create a positive home-learning environment for their young children.

Features of the study

  • Designed to be delivered in well-established systems in the early childhood sector
  • One of the largest systematic, community-based studies undertaken in Australia
  • More than 2200 families participated

Study findings

  • Parents: talked to their children more often; played with their children more frequently; provided their children with a more stimulating environment
  • Children: communicated with their parents more; improved fine motor skills

Visit the smalltalk website.

Funded by the Victorian Government.