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Closing the 30 Million Word Gap

Research on early literacy and the 30 million word gap...

  • The brain develops most during the first years of life. Children's early experiences have a big impact on their future ability to learn.

  • The amount of different words children hear by age 3 is directly related to how well children can read at age 9.

  • Important to children's future success is the amount of praise they receive.

  • Differences in families' language use and amount of praise are huge and children's patterns of talk come to match their parents.

  • Research shows that by age 3 children in more talkative families will have heard 30 million more words than children in less talkative families – a 30 million word gap!

  • And children in more talkative families will also have received 400,000 more encouragements than children in less talkative families!

  • By age 3, children from the most talkative and encouraging families scored approximately 25 points higher on IQ tests than children from the least talkative and encouraging families.

  • These are lasting differences. Children's scores on vocabulary, language, and school tests at age 9 showed a strong connection with their word use at age 3 and an even stronger connection with the talking and praise they had received from their parents when they were very young.



Children of the Code Project

American Educator