A recent trip to my parents' house reminded me of something. My mother is a talker. She'll talk about the TV show we are watching, about people we have never known, about stores we drive by or even simply read signs aloud as we pass them just to talk and maybe start a conversation. Turns out, since she's such a talker, it benefitted me in my early development and education (probably a reason I majored in Communications and minored in English, well, that coupled with the minimal math requirements in those fields of study).
Many of us are aware of the widening educational gap in America. The expanding space between the haves and the have-nots can be traced back to early childhood. It's not simply because someone is born into a poor family that they are less likely to excel in school, there are several factors ranging from the area public schools, role models, the importance placed on education, books in the home and, as an article in New Yorker Magazine points out, talking with your child.
This article references the research done in the 1980s and how a new initiative, Providence Speaks, is working to change the word gap in low-income families in Providence, RI. Here's a glimpse of the word gap findings:
Among the professional families, the average number of words that children heard in an hour was 2150; among the working-class families, it was 1250; among the welfare families, it was 620. Over time, these daily differences had major consequences, Hart and Risley concluded: With few exceptions, the more parents talked to their children, the faster the children's vocabularies were growing and the higher the children's I.Q. test scores at age 3 and later.
Another aspect Hart and Risley measured in their studies was background noise during the day and the conversation. As you would imagine, the fewer TV sounds in the background, the more words spoken in an hour. To that, add the newer distractions of smartphones, Facebook, Internet, video games and the potential for fewer words increases.