The Duchess of Cambridge has described a new BBC resource aimed at developing children’s communication and language skills as “gold dust” for parents.
Kate said she wished she had had access to the tips and tools available on the Tiny Happy People online platform as a first-time mother.
The duchess, mother to Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, has been working behind the scenes on the broadcaster’s education initiative and was interviewed by BBC Breakfast’s Louise Minchin about the project.
She has been secretly involved for a number of months, and visited Broadcasting House last November to work on some of the video resources and social media content during a creative workshop.
Kate, who said she was delighted to be part of the initiative, contributed to two cartoon films – one on the “science of singing to bump” while pregnant, and another on how eye contact is key to a baby’s language learning.
The BBC said the duchess helped with the character and background development for the two animations.
To mark the national launch, the duchess met with three families who have been involved in the creation and piloting of the digital resource, which features free activity and play ideas for 0-4-year-olds.
Kate, dressed in a long black dress decorated with large white polka dots, held a socially distanced chat in a garden last week with Ryan and his eight-month-old daughter Mia; Henrietta, Abu and their 11-month-old daughter Amirah; and Kerry, Darren and their two-year-old son Dexter to see how they have used the resources.
She was pictured smiling and gesturing with her hands as she spent time with the youngsters and their families.
Kate told Minchin, in a film which will be broadcast on BBC Breakfast on Tuesday, how there was a “massive gap” in the support parents receive before their children start school.
“In the first few months, there’s a huge amount of support from midwives and health visitors,” the duchess said.
“But from then onwards, there’s a massive gap before they then start school.
“Hearing some of the things from the parents today, Ryan at the beginning, saying how his baby has got five different cries.
“He’s learnt a huge amount from Tiny Happy People and it’s information like that I wish I had had as a first-time mum, but, for so many parents, it’s gold dust really for families to be given those tips and tools to be able to use, particularly in these first five years.”
Tiny Happy People – which can be found at bbc.co.uk/tiny-happy-people – focuses on encouraging parents and carers to talk to children from as early an age as possible.
In England, one in four children starting primary school are behind with their language learning, rising to 42% in some areas, according to the Department for Education.
The online platform offers a range of free films, articles, quizzes and parenting tips that have been specially designed with experts to help to nurture children’s language right from pregnancy.
It also includes advice on staying at home during the pandemic, such as how to create a calmer bedtime routine and how to soothe youngsters’ anxiety as lockdown restrictions lift.
Kensington Palace said the Cambridges’ Royal Foundation will collaborate with the BBC on the long-term roll-out of the initiative.
Early years development and children’s mental health and wellbeing are a key focus of Kate’s royal duties.