The smalltalk program and materials were developed in collaboration with practitioners and parents as part of the Early Home Learning Study (EHLS). The EHLS evaluated smalltalk in both the Maternal and Child Health service and the Supported Playgroups service in Victoria, Australia.

EHLS was conducted in partnership with and funded by the Victorian Department of Education and Training (formerly the Department of Early Education and Childhood Development). It was carried out by a team of researchers at the Parenting Research Centre and Queensland University of Technology between 2009 and 2012.

EHLS aimed to identify the best way to support parents experiencing disadvantage to create a rich home learning environment for their young children. The study demonstrated that with careful planning and consultation it is possible to enhance the quality of the early home learning environment for disadvantaged children through interventions designed for and delivered as an enhancement to existing services. It is the first study in Australia, and is one of only few internationally, to examine the effectiveness of an early home learning intervention by using a rigorous cluster randomized controlled trial ‘in situ’.