Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 9.54.34 AMThere is plenty of research that shows that a child’s economic status is a key indicator of how they will do in school. Many students are already behind national literacy benchmarks on their first day of kindergarten. But a landmark study identified a key cause of early literacy problems for low-income children—words.

When we think of early literacy, we often think of books, but the University of Kansas study discovered that middle- and high-income families spoke to their children more than low-income families, so much more that by age 5 low-income children had heard 30 million fewer words than their higher-income peers. The results correlated directly with the children meeting literacy standards in third grade. Low-income children whose parents spoke to them as much as their higher-income peers also did as well as those children by third grade.

The research indicated that parents should aim to speak about 30,000 words to their child each day. How much is 30,000 words? Reading Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat 18 times gets you in the ballpark. The study found that most parents who reached the 30,000-word goal tended to narrate what they were doing and chatter at their kids.

So how do you get to that total? Great Kids has a list of seven easy ways to increase your child’s early literacy through speaking. They are:

  • Play with hi and bye.
  • Play storyteller and listener.
  • Hit pause regularly.
  • Do chores and errands together.
  • Sing!
  • Play make-believe.
  • Ask your child open-ended questions.

Be sure to check out the article for detailed information on each of these opportunities to increase your child’s literacy skills.

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