Study Shows The More You Talk To A Baby The Smarter They Become
The amount of talk a baby hears from birth through age three has been shown by the research of Dr. Betty Hart and Dr. Todd R. Risley to have a profound effect on a child's IQ, academic success and language abilities.
More than a decade ago Dr. Hart was tasked with improving the vocabularies of 4 -year-old pre-schoolers in one of Kansas' more impoverished and troubled neighborhoods. Her directive was to "get the kids to speak the way 4-year-old children of college professors speak". Everything she tried failed.
She concluded that age 4 was too late to start and, along with Dr. Risley, began a decade long study which recorded how much parents of varying socio-economic status talk to their children.
In their study Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children, theirof parent-child talk in families in Kansas, a team of researchers recorded one full hour of every word spoken at home between parent and child in 42 families over a three year period, with children from seven months to 36 months of age. The team then spent six additional years typing, coding, and analyzing 30,000 pages of transcripts.
Follow-up studies by Hart and Risley of those same children at age nine showed that there was a very tight link between the academic success of a child and the number of words the child’s parents spoke to the child to age three.
The poorest families averaged 600 words spoken to the child per hour. The average for upper income families was 2,100 words. This means that by age four the poorer child has heard 13 million words, the more affluent child 48 million.
Hart and Risley's three main findings were:
1. The variation in children’s IQs and language abilities is relative to the amount parents speak to their children. The more, the better.
2. Children’s academic successes at ages nine and ten are attributable to the amount of talk they hear from birth to age three.
3. Parents of advanced children talk significantly more to their children than parents of children who are not as advanced.
With very few exceptions, the more parents talked to their children, the fastethe children's vocabularies were growing and the higher the children's IQ test scores at age three and later.
The research reveals that the most important aspect of children's language experience is its amount.
Differences in the amount of words a child hears are strongly linked to differences at age three in children's rates of vocabulary growth, vocabulary use and general academic accomplishments. These differences have been shown to be significant through age nine - the point at which the study concluded. However, there is no reason to believe that the differences do not last throughout a child's life.
For greater detail on this study go to: http://www.childrenofthecode.org/interviews/risley.htm