It’s hard to believe the study practitioners are talking about more and more has been around for 20 years! Hart & Risley’s important study raised our awareness about the 30 million-word gap between low-income children and their higher income peers.
SADDENED, BUT NOT FOR LONG ..
Whenever I experience moments like my time spent at Chick-Fil-A it saddens me as I'm on a mission advocating for minority children's literacy achievement. Luckily, a few days later a visit to my local library to preview some new children's picture books gave me a reason to smile. Story time for toddlers had just ended and the diverse group of mothers and children got up and began to look for books. Conversation was happening all around me! One mother was speaking in English while simultaneously reinforcing words in another language as she explained what she was doing to her child who was watching her use the computer to scan and check out their books. I happily jotted in my trusty notebook - the library is a role model and there is reason to smile!
SUPERMARKET STUDY GIVES ME HOPE
Days later I came across an article discussing the very same "30-million-word gap" with an idea of how to change our thinking from just school reform and actually use our everyday environments as learning communities - such as grocery stores. A team from Temple University placed signs around the supermarket to see if the signs would spark conversation between children and parents. The team reported the results in the latest edition of Mind, Brain, and Education journal.
As I read the article, I was pleasantly reminded of "a few" years back when I gave birth to my son (by "a few" I mean 34 years ago this week) my Mom helped us out by babysitting our 2-1/2 year old daughter while I was in the hospital. A visit to the grocery store with my daughter was an eye-opener for my Mom. She shared her amazement at how much my daughter "talked" about the vegetables in the produce section and all the products that we purchased on a regular basis. You may think this is no big deal; unfortunately there are many parents that don't even think to have a conversation with their child in the grocery store about what they are seeing. My Mom had been one of those parents!
Fortunately, Hart & Risley's research is beginning to have an impact. More and more organizations, libraries, day care providers, etc. are hearing about and sharing the importance of talking to our children with families. Now if we could just figure out how to get the research into practice in a more timely fashion - 20 years is a long time to wait!
As I end this post I write in my notebook - I'm hopeful!
Help me to spread the word --TALK TO THE BABIES!
See you next Wednesday! :)