Positive Parenting Newsfeed—a Child Trends Project—is Supported by the National Science Foundation

Filling the Thirty Million Word Gap

CHICAGO, Ill. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — The Thirty Million Words Initiative was founded in Chicago to educate parents about the importance of language to their little ones. The name is taken from education research in the 1990s that found that some children heard 30 million more words than their peers by their fourth birthday, and that children who heard more words were better prepared for school. Here’s more on how parents can help build their child’s brain.

From the time babies are born, parents feed them, clothe them, and comfort them. Now, scientists say that simple steps from day one can nurture their brains. Dana Suskind, MD, is a pediatric surgeon who specializes in cochlear implants for deaf children. After starting the pediatric implant program at the University of Chicago, she began noticing that some patients began to talk and learn after implant while some did not.

During newborn hearing screenings, Chicago parents receive information about language and brain development. The Thirty Million Words Initiative advocates the three Ts for brain development. Tune in—follow your child’s lead to see what he is interested in. Talk more—narrate to your child; seize opportunities to describe the world around him. And take turns—make it more like a conversation.

The Thirty Million Words Initiative also provides information to parents at Chicago pediatricians’ offices. This program may soon come to a city near you, as the program is currently negotiating with other cities to expand.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Videographer.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. 

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