Ever since a pair of psychologists found that by age 3, poor children heard 30 million fewer words than affluent children, parents and educators have been obsessed with the “word gap.” Now a study has found that the quality of interactions, not the quantity of words, is what matters when it comes to teaching kids language. The findings don’t completely contradict the original “word gap” work, but they should help put it in perspective.
Kids love iPads. Pediatricians do not. Keep your children away from screens before they turn two, doctors say, but also read to them at least once a day, starting from the day they are born. When “reading” increasingly means swiping pages on a digital device, and app stores are bursting with programs that promise to teach kids to talk, count, and read, what’s a parent to do? My latest page one story for the Times, Is E-Reading to Your Toddler Story Time, or Simply Screen Time?
“One of the biggest myths about poverty in the United States is that a relatively small segment of the population is poor, and that this represents a more or less permanent underclass. But…lots of people move in and out of poverty over the course of their lives. And it doesn’t take much for people at the edge to lose their footing.”