“If everyone talked to their young children the same amount, there would be no racial or socioeconomic gap at all.” This controversial claim was made in a New York Times article, “The Power of Talking to Your Baby,” by Tina Rosenberg. Some excerpts from this article based on the research of Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley at the University of Kansas:

“Children whose families were on welfare heard about 600 words per hour. Working-class children heard 1,200 words per hour, and children from professional families heard 2,100 words. By age 3, a poor child would have heard 30 million fewer words in his home environment than a child from a professional family…. Hart and Risley… found that parents talk much more to girls than to boys (perhaps because girls are more sociable, or because it is Mom who does most of the care, and parents talk more to children of their gender). This might explain why young, poor boys have particular trouble in school.

And the disparity mattered: the greater the number of words children heard from their parents or caregivers before they were 3, the higher their IQ and the better they did in school. TV talk not only didn’t help, it was detrimental.”

Children need to hear an abundance of a varied vocabulary.