The Chatterbugs Manual
A 12-Week Speech, Language and Communication Programme for Early Years
The Chatterbugs Manual is a practical resource for all those supporting the development of the foundation communication skills of attention and listening, turn-taking and early vocabulary in children. The Chatterbugs programme has been designed to bridge the gap between education and specialist speech, language and communication provision, specifically with Early Years mainstream settings in mind. It enables school staff to prepare children—including those with delayed communication skills, EAL learners, or children with suspected special education needs—for learning in school by developing their communication skills through the use of robust communication strategies.
The Chatterbugs Manual contains:
An overview of the programme, including step-by-step instructions on how to plan and deliver a Chatterbugs session
Guidance on identifying children likely to benefit from the programme
Progress Tracking documents, along with information on measuring outcomes
Child-friendly, illustrated session resources
Frequently Asked Questions
A parent-friendly information leaflet
Information on models of implementation
Information on accessing training and support
Developed by an experienced speech and language therapist, Chatterbugs has consistently recorded successful outcomes for over 80% of participants since the programme’s inception in 2012, and for over 90% of participants since 2016. With its hands-on approach, the programme is an essential resource for educators, support staff, and speech and language therapists working with Early Years children.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction to Chatterbugs 2. Chatterbugs Programme Structure and Preparation 3. Chatterbugs Programme – Personnel, Participants and Paperwork 4. Chatterbugs Sessions 5. Chatterbugs Outcomes 6. Chatterbugs Frequently Asked Questions 7. Chatterbugs Models of Implementation and Training. Appendix I: Chatterbugs Guidance A. Chatterbugs Targets B. Chatterbugs Activities. Appendix II: Chatterbugs Tracking A. Chatterbugs Baseline and Skills Review B. Chatterbugs Daily Tracking Sheet. Appendix III:Chatterbugs Resources A. Chatterbugs Programme Preparation Checklist B. Chatterbugs Resource Construction C. Chatterbugs Visual Timetable Construction D. Chatterbugs Vocabulary List E. Chatterbugs Resources
Andrea Richards is a speech and language therapist with over 10 years’ experience working with a wide range of clients. She has also contributed to the undergraduate and postgraduate speech therapy courses at University College London. Her specialism is working with mainstream primary schools. Her service prioritises recommendations from high profile reviews, such as the Bercow Report, where early identification of need, early intervention, and joint working between services are highlighted as essential.
"The publication of The Chatterbugs Manual is a golden opportunity for schools everywhere to take advantage of this thoroughly researched and highly successful early language development programme. I’ve seen the Chatterbugs programme in action in several primary schools, and I know that it works. The meticulously maintained progress tracking data that forms an essential component of the approach demonstrates very clearly that almost all the children who complete the 12-week programme make excellent progress in improving their skills of paying attention, listening carefully and taking turns, and that they make great strides in developing their vocabulary. The children I’ve observed in Chatterbugs sessions demonstrated huge enjoyment in their learning, and they were clearly fully engaged in what they were doing. The Chatterbugs Manual will provide schools with an invaluable resource to meet the needs of young children who need extra support in developing their communication skills." – John Dewhurst, School Leadership Consultant
"The combination of well-structured and lively activities, good use of song, visual and physical cues and small groups mean that children, including those with English as an additional language, make very good progress." – Cathy Twist, Director, Education and Learning, London Borough of Lambeth
"Chatterbugs is a tried and tested Early Years intervention targeted at those children who start school without the language, attention and turn taking skills required. It has been developed and refined over a number of years, with over 1000 children benefitting. Chatterbugs is a no fuss, practical resource. The guidance is very easy to follow, and I expect teaching assistants will be able to run groups and track progress independently once they get going. SENCOs will find this resource extremely useful, as it can built into a school’s graduated response for children with SEND." - Stephen Parsons, Speech and Language Therapist, Author and Trainer, Thinking Talking
"As someone who has spent their whole career working with children with SEND, I am aware of the importance of high quality assessment evidence and the value of well pitched early intervention. The Chatterbugs Manual provides a clearly articulated, carefully sequenced framework that will help schools to secure the prerequisite skills necessary for later success in reading. Its systematic use provides an opportunity to understand and address areas for improvement and put in place developmentally appropriate activities in order to maximise impact on pupil progress." - Simon Knight, National SEND Leader, Whole School SEND, UK