Chicago Program Emphasizes Quality Of Parent/Child Interaction Key To Growth, Not Increasing Quantity Of Vocabulary

Is the power of parent talk enough to close the school readiness divide? is a very interesting article in the Hechinger Report about a home visit program in Chicago where parents are shown how they can interact with their children to enhance vocabulary growth.

What’s particularly striking is its focus on the quality of interaction — it doesn’t seem to try to just have parents add a lot of higher level words. Here’s an example:

“Instead of saying, ‘go put on your shoes,’ I can say, ‘Alright, it’s time to go. What else do you need? … That gives my child the chance to respond, and say, ‘shoes,’” said Newell, 25, who has a 4-year-old daughter and a 10-month-old son and works for a company providing recess supervision and after-school activities in Chicago Public Schools.

Kids to where recording devices so researchers and parents can review interactions, but it is only for one day.

This article is particularly significant in light of a massive effort in Providence, being funded by New York Mayor Bloomberg’s foundation, that seems to be approaching this issue in a different and more intrusive way (see Could Providence’s Word Counting Project Be A “Boondoggle” As Well As Being Creepy?).

The Chicago project also seems to recognize recent research that shows shows that its the quality, not quantity, of parent interaction that enhances cognitive development related to vocabulary.

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