Meet Fiona

Hi, my name’s Fiona Barry and I have been a Speech and Language Therapist since 2004. I received a BA Honours in English Literature and Linguistics from the University of Kent, Canterbury and a Masters of Science degree in Speech and Language Sciences from University College London. I work for the NHS with children who have speech, language and communication needs.

Since launching TalkingTipsForKids I have been in demand for my opinion by the media and have recently held a Mumsnet Q&A, appeared on Sky News Sunrise and regularly writes articles for The Daily Telegraph online education section with an article which was retweeted by Ed Balls MP.

I also have two boys of my own who have given me the best insight into how children learn to perform what I think is the greatest magic trick of all time – how to turn ideas and feelings into words and sentences!

A recent parliamentary review into services for children with communication difficulties – The Bercow Review – stated that ‘the ability to communicate is an essential life skill for all children and young people in the twenty-first century’.

Children who have a good foundation in talking and listening skills are more likely to grow up to make friends easily, do well at school, stay out of trouble with the law and thrive in the workplace.

In fact, the amount of words a child can use and understand at the age of 5 is a very strong predictor of the qualifications that child will achieve at school leaving age and beyond. But it’s concerning to me that, in some areas of the country, up to 50% of children starting school arrive in the classroom without adequate language skills.

The good news

We now know what parents do at home with their children is more important to later language skills than anything to do with their income, education, class or ethnic background. Parents are the key to unlocking their child’s talking talents and it’s never too early or late to start.

And it’s this idea that has led me to devising a range of videos to equip parents with the tools to help their child reach their full communication potential. The way you play, talk and interact with your child has a real impact on how their speech and language develops.

In the premium videos, I share with you a range of ‘parent-child interaction strategies’ (ways of talking with your child) that speech and language therapists use. These are useful for all children  – for those who are having difficulties and for those who aren’t. Small changes in how you communicate can make big changes in how your child communicates!

Words are free – but they’re also priceless.

Fiona is a member of the Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists