ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Nearly one in every four children in the U.S. is living in poverty. Developmental psychologists say many of these kids lag behind their peers when it comes to language development. One study found at-risk children heard 30 million fewer words by age three than other kids. But now research is showing a parent can improve a child’s vocabulary with a simple run to the grocery store.
For most parents, a trip to the grocery store with kids means get in and get out! But a recent study found the grocery store may be the perfect place for parents to work on those language skills with children. Developmental psychologists placed signs encouraging adults to talk to children in supermarkets serving low- and mid-income neighborhoods. They found when the signs were posted, adults and kids were nearly four times more likely to converse in the low-income areas. But the signs had little effect in the mid-socioeconomic communities, where the interaction level was already high.
Research scientists suggest opportunities for learning are everywhere. Next time you’re at the store with your child, talk about where milk comes from or how veggies are grown. You can also ask “What’s your favorite fruit?” Or “What can we eat with this?” The most important thing is to keep those conversations going.
Just how important are those chats you have with your young kids? Researchers from UCLA studied 275 families with young children and found back and forth conversation contributed the most to the child’s future language development, six times more so than adult speech alone.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Julie Marks, Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.
Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.