Importance of Talking to A Child Before Age 3 to Impact Learning Ability
“A poor child is likely to hear millions fewer words at home than a child from a professional family. And the disparity matters.” This is a quote from “The Power Of Talking to Your Baby”, a New York Times article that discusses the research of Betty Hart and Todd Risley which was published a book in 1995 entitled, “Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children”. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/10/the-power-of-talking-to-your-baby/. The article goes on to say that “the disparity mattered:the greater the number of words children heard from their parent or caregiver before they were 3, the higher their IQ and the better they did in school. TV talk not only didn’t help; it was detrimental.” Based on this research and other new evidence, a new idea is entering the policy debate: “the key to early learning is talking”. Children whose families were on welfare heard about 600 words per hours. Working-class children heard 1,200 words per hour, and children of professional families heard 2,100 words.
But a large number of professional families are not home to speak to their child 2,100 words per hour. Many are at work, usually about 40 hours per week. A child in a daycare won’t have the one-to-one attention that a child at home with a nanny will have. How many words that child will hear there is hard to estimate.
Our agency has a no-TV policy for all of nannies, which they enthusiastically practice. Our nannies prefer not use TV; they would rather interact with a child than put on a movie. When we interview a nanny, we look for those who understand the importance of talking to a child while interacting, playing, and doing everyday activities such as, “Now we’ll get your hat so we can go outside. Now we’ll pour some milk into a glass. Is it good? Is it cold?” We don’t want a nanny to inundate a baby with words nonstop, but it’s important that she understands the importance of talking to a baby and having ongoing reciprocal interaction as they go through their day. We look for attentive, verbal, engaged, and highly aware nannies who understand how important talking is to a child’s ability to learn. Our nannies find reward and satisfaction in knowing they’re helping a child to learn and grow. Impacting a child’s long term development is part of why they’re drawn to the field. They’re excited to learn about new research about child development. These are the nannies we’re looking for to place with our families.
To get more tips on hiring and retaining a nanny go to: www.safeandsoundnannies.com
Dr. Ann Wycoff is founder of Safe and Sound Nannies, a full service agency.