As part of GoMighty, I’ve been invited to participate in the Too Small to Fail initiative with partners Next Generation and the Clinton Foundation on a sponsored campaign to encourage language in my family.
When I launched my first blog in 2006, I came up with aliases for my kiddos to protect their identities online. Coming up with the name for my oldest daughter was a piece of cake: even since before she could actually talk, she was always babbling animatedly, non-stop; when she began expanding her vocabulary, it was the beginning of a lifetime of constant conversation, about any and everything, all the time. And so, her nickname as Chatterbox was born. While at times her incessant flow of chatter can be exhausting for those around her to navigate daily, I also realize what a gift it is. Words are powerful and, to be born with a natural penchant for them, is a priceless.
The Importance of Language Acquisition
According to Too Small to Fail, an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, one of the most important things parents can do to promote brain development is to talk, sing, and engage with infants and young children. The more words young children hear in everyday interactions with adults, the better prepared they will be to learn. I was a stickler for reading stories and singing songs to my kids when they were infants and naturally did things like put them to sleep with lullabies and labeling household items so that they could see that everything has a word associated to it. I knew that language acquisition critical to their little developing minds, but until recently, I didn’t realize just how much those first five years will impact the rest of their lives nor did I know of the discrepancies in language that exist based on income.
Researchers estimate that children in low-income households hear 30 million fewer words than children from high-income households by the age of four. This translates into high-income kids having two or three times more words in their vocabularies than children from low-income families. And one can only imagine the trajectory that those discrepancies set the low-income children on.
The Good News and Some Fun Goals
With some amplification of and education of the issue, this is a problem that can be fixed. Simple, no- or low- cost actions like talking with children and reading to them everyday, visiting enriching environments like libraries and museums, and minimizing stressful experiences enhance brain development and improve children’s health, learning, and behavior. In the case of my own kids, I do realize that, as they get older, building in time for words requires more intentional effort on my part, as we compete with television, video games and apps.
As part of GoMighty, I’ve been invited to participate in the Too Small to Fail initiative with partners Next Generation and the Clinton Foundation to encourage language in my family. Some of my goals are to:
Setup a Reading Nook
Read, Sing and Speak to My Children in French
Setup Skype Read-A-Loud Days with Grandma
Create An Interactive Journal For Us
There are a few things that you can do to join this initiative too: add your own goals on gomighty.com and tag them with the hashtag #GoMighty4Kids; visit toosmall.org and sign up to receive their weekly newsletters. You can also follow them on Twitter (@2SmalltoFail) or like us on Facebook (facebook.com/2smalltofail).