Hillary Clinton launched a new education initiative, “Talking is Teaching,” which strives to boost vocabularies and early learning abilities of young children.
The initiative, which Clinton announced while visiting a Tulsa school Monday, highlights how parents and caregivers can drastically improve a child’s ability to learn new words and concepts through simple actions: describing objects seen during a walk or bus ride, singing songs, and spending 5-minutes, three days a week, telling stories.
The program is based on studies that say children from low-income households are exposed to fewer new words and vocabulary, which puts them at a disadvantage and leads to lower achievement in schools.
According to a December speech by Obama, “By the time she turns 3 years old, a child born into a low-income home hears 30 million fewer words than a child from a well-off family, which means by the time she starts school, she’s already behind."
This fact — based on a study from 2000 — was corroborated last year when a Stanford psychologist published a new study showing that, at 18 months, children from more affluent households could identify images of simple words, such as “dog” or “ball,” far quicker than children from low-income families. And when the children were reassessed 6 months later, the wealthier children had learned 30% more words than the children from low-income households.
The effects of these “opportunity gaps” often translate into “achievement gaps” — specifically on standardized tests where vocabulary exposure plays a massive role.
Clinton’s initiative — while nothing new — sounds like a great idea, and a good reminder of simple vocabulary integration techniques for all families, no matter their household income.