Words really do matter … especially in a kid’s early years.

Interesting study reported in The Atlantic

A pair of psychologists – Betty Hart and Todd Risley –  got curious about why some 3 and 4 year old kids are more academically ready than others.

“They devised a novel (and exhaustive) methodology: for more than three years, they sampled the actual words spoken to young children from 42 families at 3 different socioeconomic levels: (1) welfare homes, (2) working-class homes, and (3) professionals’ homes. Then they tallied the quantity and quality of the words spoken to the kids. “

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The results were – in the words of the researchers – “astounding”…

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Let’s start with the quantity …

Children in professionals’ homes were exposed to an average of over 1,500 more spoken words per hour than children in welfare homes.

Over one year, that amounted to a difference of nearly 8 million words.

So, by age four, amounted to a total gap of 32 million words.

The authors observed a direct correlation between the number of these early “verbal experiences” and academic readiness – both within and across the groups.

Said differently, the more children are talked to as infants, the more academically ready they’ll be  when they hit the kindergarten door.

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The researchers also found a substantial gap in tone and nature of words being used.

Hart and Risley also found that, in the first four years after birth, the average child from a professional family receives 560,000 more instances of encouraging feedback than discouraging feedback.

A working- class child receives merely 100,000 more encouragements than discouragements;.

A  welfare child receives 125,000 more discouragements than encouragements.

The bottom line should come as no surprise:

If you want your kids or grandkids to be early achievers in school, read to them, talk to them and, oh yeah, encourage them.

Research says the impact can be “astounding”.

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Thanks to MKH for feeding the lead

#HomaFiles

Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts

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One Response to “Words really do matter … especially in a kid’s early years.”

  1. John Milnes Baker Says:

    Not surprising …..

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