Recent research found links between family income and children’s vocabulary, strengthening the idea that adults can support children achieving success by closing the word gap.
The word gap is also known as the “Early Catastrophe”. What is the catastrophe? Children in richer households in a study twenty years ago were tape recorded and shown to have been exposed to 30 million more words by age 3 than children from lower income families.
In a follow up seven years later, the authors of the report said they found the initial measure predicted later academic success. The results were clear – address the word gap early and give poor children a better chance of success.
Today’s children are not measured with tape recorders, but with digital devices called LENA (Language Environment Analysis). In Providence Rhode Island, the LENA device tracks when kids actually converse with parents, and filters out background speech and noise. Workers then interpret results for families and provide strategies to improve communication.