They say “talk is cheap,” but when it comes to giving children the best possible start in life, the simple act of talking to them is one of the most valuable lessons parents can give. (And it doesn’t cost a dime!)
That’s the idea behind Hillary Clinton’s “Talking is Teaching” campaign where everything from preparing a meal to taking a bus ride can be an opportunity to increase the number of words young children hear each day.
“What we learned is pretty simple but profound: When you talk to that little infant from the moment you meet him or her, when you read, when you sing, you are building brain capacity,” Clinton recently told reporters at the launch of the “Talking is Teaching” campaign at a Tulsa, Oklahoma preschool. “You are creating the opportunity for that child to live up to his or her God-given potential.”
According to Tulsa World, children usually know 500 words by the age four and the goal of the former First Lady’s campaign is to increase that to 1,100 words.
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Why exactly is talking so important? Research shows that there’s a significant “word gap” between affluent and low-income families. Clinton writes on the Too Small to Fail website that by age four, wealthier children hear about 15 million more words than children in working-class families, and 30 million more words than children in families on welfare. The reason? Low-income parents or caretakers who work multiple jobs a day might not have the time to interact as much with their kids. Unfortunately, this is a setback that puts these children at a significant disadvantage before they even enter preschool.
According to Clinton, the “Talking is Teaching” campaign will work with employers and the business community to encourage them to give these less-affluent parents more flexibility and support. You can learn more about the initiative here.
Now that’s something to talk about.