Why the way we talk to children really matters

Article Summary:

Research suggests that there may be a 30 million word gap between children from poor backgrounds compared to those in wealthier, professional households. While the study was far from ideal, neuroscientists are now able to show how the brain responds to early language exposure. One group, led by Rachel Romeo, a neuroscientist and speech language pathologist at Boston Children’s Hospital, showed that conversational interactions can have a visible benefit on brain development. The team used LENA technology to measure conversations in families’ homes monitoring both the amount of language they were exposed to and the number of conversational turns. Children who had more turn-taking conversations were better at language comprehension tasks. To encourage parents to interact more with children, a project in Philadelphia called “Playful Learning Landscapes” posts nudges in public places.