The Power Of Talk

Studies have proven what you already knew: Simply talking with your child is more powerful than any combination of flashcards, computer programs, television or DVDs. But the quantity of words your child hears every day from birth to age 3 is critical.

Researchers Dr. Betty Hart, Ph.D., and Dr. Todd Risley, Ph.D., conducted painstaking research over almost a decade to learn why some children do better than others in school, and published their findings in a groundbreaking book called Meaningful Differences.1 The answer comes down to words.

The more parents and caregivers talked with their children from birth to age 3, the more likely those children would succeed later in life. 

Specifically, their study and several subsequent studies confirmed that children whose parents and caregivers speak 33 million words to them during this time period — or 30,000 words every day — did better academically than children who heard fewer words.

After the first three years, all other efforts to teach a child vocabulary are remedial. Worse, it is virtually impossible to close the gap with children whose parents have provided an advantage.

The quantity of talk a child experienced directly correlated with the child’s IQ and vocabulary size. No other variable, including parents’ educations or socioeconomic status, predicted a child’s IQ and vocabulary as well as the quantity of talk the parents had with their child.