A good friend and coworker, Dr. Indy Cesari sent me  this brief summary of the Hart and Risley Study.  The implications are huge.  How can we , as educators, support parents with these findings?  Think about the importance  of  the key findings.  Think about how important those beginning years are.  Spread the message to parents, spread the message to educators…. TALK with young children!

The 1995 Hart & Risley Study

Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children describes the remarkable findings of Betty Hart, Ph.D., and Todd R. Risley, Ph.D. Their longitudinal study of parent-child talk in families in Kansas was conducted over a decade. A team of researchers recorded one full hour of every word spoken at home between parent and child in 42 families over a three year period, with children from seven months to 36 months of age. The team then spent six additional years typing, coding, and analyzing 30,000 pages of transcripts.

Follow-up studies by Hart and Risley of those same children at age nine showed that there was a very tight link between the academic success of a child and the number of words the child’s parents spoke to the child to age three.

Hart and Risley’s Three Key Findings:

1. The variation in children’s IQs and language abilities is relative to the amount parents speak to their children.

2. Children’s academic successes at ages nine and ten are attributable to the amount of talk they hear from birth to age three.

3. Parents of advanced children talk significantly more to their children than parents of children who are not as advanced.

  • “With few exceptions, the more parents talked to their  children, the faster the children’s vocabularies were growing and the higher the children’s IQ test scores at age three and later.”
  • “The data revealed that the most important aspect of children’s language experience is its amount.”
  • Differences in the amount of cumulative experiencechildren had … were strongly linked to differences at age three in children’s rates of vocabulary growth, vocabulary use, and general accomplishments and strongly linked to differences in school performance at age nine.”