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30 million Word Gap: Disrupting Kids in Poverty

 
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purpulicious01 View Drop Down
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    Posted: Dec 31 2013 at 9:37am

Can We Disrupt Poverty by Changing How Poor Parents Talk to Their Kids?

Can We Disrupt Poverty by Changing How Poor Parents Talk to Their Kids?

PROVIDENCE, R.I.—Small children in the most talkative homes hear, on average, 20,000 to 30,000 words in a day. That number may sound implausible. But all of the overheard conversations, nursery rhymes, and admonishments add up.

And, for upper-income children, they add up much faster than they do in homes deep in poverty. This creates a socioeconomic "word gap" between low- and high-income children.

This gap exists in the difference between reading and watching TV. It's in the difference between handing a toddler a bowl of cereal, and using that cereal as a ploy to talk about mouths and tummies. The gap widens because a low-income parent, who works two jobs, isn't around as much to talk to her children, or has less energy when she is home. And it grows because a child whose parents cannot afford a stuffed elephant may never have much reason to talk about elephants at all.

By the time poor children are 3, researchers believe they have heard on average about 30 million fewer words than children the same age from better-off families, setting back their vocabulary, cognitive development, and future reading skills before the first day of school. This disadvantage is "already almost irreversible," says Kenneth Wong, a professor of education policy at Brown University.

In Providence, many of these children fill up the public-school system: 87 percent of students district-wide here are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Come January, the city plans to launch an unconventional intervention with a few dozen low-income children—then hundreds more—in a bid to alter their life prospects by changing how their parents talk to them.

"Unfortunately, Providence takes turns, it seems, with Detroit and New Orleans to see who's going to lead in childhood poverty," says John Kelly, CEO of Meeting Street, which runs an Early Head Start home-visitation program in town that will be central to the initiative, called Providence Talks. "That doesn't create always healthy, happy home environments."

Providence won a $5 million grant over three years from Bloomberg Philanthropies to develop the initiative in partnership with community-service providers, researchers at Brown, and a Colorado foundation that's figured out how to build a pedometer for words.

The device, a 2-ounce specialized recorder about the size of a deck of cards, maps the intensity of communication between parents and children. The infants and toddlers in Providence Talks will wear it twice a month, tucked into a custom-made vest, for 12 to 16 hours at a time. The recorder then plugs into a computer, where software automatically converts the audio files into charts that can be used by Meeting Street to coach the parents on how and when they might speak to their children more often.

The project has attracted national attention for both the Bloomberg money and the curious technology. Providence Talks is also novel for its high stakes: Mayor Angel Taveras wants to scale the initiative citywide, while privacy advocates raise concerns about the program's intrusion into residents' lives. Bloomberg's not-for-profit gave Providence this money on the gamble that it could validate a chain reaction that other cities could follow. Close the word gap, advocates say, and you might close the achievement gap and maybe even disrupt the cycle of poverty.


* Read the rest of the article here: http://www.theatlanticcities.com/jobs-and-economy/2013/12/one-citys-plan-change-how-poor-parents-talk-their-kids/7897/




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LovesHim View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote LovesHim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Dec 31 2013 at 9:44am
BINGO.....

I wanted to bring this up in the achievement gap thread. 
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tatee View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tatee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Dec 31 2013 at 10:00am
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By the time poor children are 3, researchers believe they have heard on average about 30 million fewer words than children the same age from better-off families, setting back their vocabulary, cognitive development, and future reading skills before the first day of school. This disadvantage is "already almost irreversible," says Kenneth Wong, a professor of education policy at Brown University.


 wow
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (6) Thanks(6)   Quote trudawg Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Dec 31 2013 at 10:11am
This is so fundamental to the our learning and achievement gaps. I think parents keep the cycle going by doing what was done to them by their parents. In some ways it may seem absurd to carry on conversations with babies and small children, because we have that "stay out of grown-folk" mentality when it comes to communicating with our children. People wonder why low income minorities tend to perform lower on standardized test and LSAT exams. I'm really glad to see it being addressed.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (3) Thanks(3)   Quote purpulicious01 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Dec 31 2013 at 10:18am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LovesHim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Dec 31 2013 at 10:40am
yes yes and yes to those articles purp....

I am currently working on a book to educate parents on how to work with their children at home... i work in the public school and i support the system.... but lets be honest... the public school system is flawed and kids are failing because of it.... 

there are many things parents can do at home that will set kids up for success vs failure
I feel as though white people are in on and we are not... we have no clue
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (6) Thanks(6)   Quote SamoneLenior Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Dec 31 2013 at 10:46am

it's not simply black vs white
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LovesHim View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (3) Thanks(3)   Quote LovesHim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Dec 31 2013 at 10:56am
^^^ true.... unfortunately I work in a very segregated area and that a lot of what I see... race/ses hard to tease it all apart at times 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (5) Thanks(5)   Quote afrokock Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Dec 31 2013 at 4:16pm
how do poor africans and indians have a better understanding and wider english vocabulary than their first world compadres?

Edited by afrokock - Dec 31 2013 at 4:33pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (6) Thanks(6)   Quote NARSAddict Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Dec 31 2013 at 4:31pm
Originally posted by afrokock afrokock wrote:

how do poor africans and indians have a better understanding and wider english vocabulary than their first world world immigrants?


My opinion is that majority of Africans and Indians that comes to the US tends to be college educated and thus tend to focus more on education early on.  More likely to spend money on books than on latest shoes and clothes.  Again my opinion.
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