Children under the age of 3 need to hear 30,000 words from their parents and caregivers to ensure optimal language development and academic success.
The Power of Talk research study has found that, regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic factors, kids who converse regularly with their parents do much better educationally.
“When parents share their children’s output of words with me, I remind them that it’s actually the input that matters. The parents’ and caregivers’ words are what really count,” said Steven Perry, M.D., pediatrician with Cherry Creek Pediatrics in Denver. “It’s not educational toys, TV or videos that make your child smart and well-adjusted; it’s talk. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children 2 years and under not watch any TV or videos, but spend quality time with caregivers instead.”
Key findings of the study include:
- Parents estimated they talked more with their children than they actually did.
- Parents of advanced children in the 90th to 99th percentile on language assessments spoke substantially more to their children than did parents of children who were not as advanced.
- Most language training for children came from mothers, with mothers (both working and stay-at-home) accounting for 78 percent of total talk.
- Mothers talked more to daughters than they did to sons.
- Parents talked more to first-born children than to children who followed in the birth order.
- Most adult talk between parent and child occurred in the late afternoon and early evening.