The Huffington Post:
The Clinton Foundation sponsors an initiative called Too Small to Fail, which aims to help low-income parents better prepare their children for school. Many children who grow up in poverty enter school already far behind, and this achievement gap often persists into adulthood. Much of this achievement gap can be traced back to poor language skills, including stunted vocabulary development — the so-called “word gap.”
It’s estimated that poor children, by the time they hit kindergarten, have heard 30 million fewer words than their more fortunate classmates. The 30-million-word gap was first documented two decades ago and is widely cited, and Too Small to Fail is just one of the national efforts to close the gap, to increase the quantity of language that underprivileged preschoolers are exposed to through conversation, reading and song.
A team of scientists is now attempting to address this oversight. Temple University psychological scientist Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, working with colleagues at several universities, wants to broaden our understanding of language quality by examining what she calls the “communication foundation.”
Here’s a simplified summary of a fairly complex statistical analysis, reported in a forthcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science: Most importantly, low-income children who became successful language users at age 3 had richer foundational experiences at age 2, on all three measures — engagement with symbols, shared rituals, and fluidity of interaction.
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