SRF Program

  • smalltalk

    VEYLDF Alignment

    Item uses these practice principles: Partnerships with families, High expectations for every child, Respectful relationships and responsive engagement.

    Item responds to these sub-outcomes: Children interact verbally and non-verbally with others for a range of purposes, Children begin to understand how symbols and pattern systems work, Children engage with a range of texts and get meaning from these texts.


    smalltalk is a set of evidence-based strategies that are shared with parents in a way that recognises that parents are the experts on their children. It recognises the current positive efforts parents are making towards their child's development. Strategies can be shared with parents in early childhood services and/or when visiting the family home.

    The program is targeted at parents with children aged from birth up to school age who may benefit from extra ideas about how to use everyday opportunities and activities to enhance their child's early literacy and learning in the home.

    smalltalk facilitators are trained in effective ways to engage with parents and are introduced to methods for casually introducing these strategies.

    Detailed Costs

    Two-day training program for up to 10 participants (within metropolitan Melbourne): $6710 (incl. GST, training materials, venue and catering). 

    For workshops elsewhere, travel is charged at 69c/km, and accommodation and incidentals at $290 per night. Contact the provider for details.

    Implementation Considerations

    Target population: parents of children aged 12 months to 47 months who are experiencing disadvantage. Group size and eligibility for smalltalk follows the Supported Playgroup requirements.

    Program/practice descriptions and details: smalltalk video examples and manuals can be obtained as part of training. See program website for samples of the baby and toddler video clips.

    Training requirements: training comprises online e-learning that takes approximately four hours, followed by a two-day, active skills-based training workshop. Workshops can be scheduled to suit services, in consultation with the provider. There are no prerequisites to participate in the smalltalk training and to become a smalltalk provider.

    Supervision/coaching: smalltalk facilitators receive coaching and implementation support to help them deliver the program faithfully.

    Staffing: services should consider the cost of backfill when determining the cost of accessing this resource.       

    Program adaptability: smalltalk can be adapted to fit many early childhood settings, in consultation with the provider. Facilitators can deliver the content to individual parents/carers, or to small or large groups.

    Factors to consider: the provider offers consultation, training, and implementation support.

    Consider how staff may be able to share the practice knowledge they obtain from this resource with others at the service. This will ensure that improved approaches to practice or innovative ideas can be implemented across the service as a whole.

    Tools and systems: for elearning, learners will need to:

    • view the modules on a laptop or PC (not a tablet)
    • access the modules via the latest version of their web browser
    • access the modules via a broadband connection of 512Kbps or faster to ensure smooth delivery of audio-visual content
    • ensure that cookies, JavaScript and pop-ups are enabled
    • have the latest version of a PDF reader such as Adobe Acrobat Reader installed
    • use an audio device such as speakers or headphones
    • have Abode Flash player 10.3 or higher
    • have a screen resolution of 1024 x 768 or better.

    Ongoing delivery of smalltalk to families involves the provision of some non-paper-based parenting materials, which can be purchased at cost from the provider. Other paper-based materials are downloadable from the restricted area of the smalltalk website.

    Australian experience: smalltalk was developed and trialled in Australia. In Victoria, smalltalk was funded by the Victorian Department of Education and Training and developed and rolled out by the Parenting Research Centre.

    Priority Area


    Strength of Evidence

    Level 3 - Promising research evidence