Positive parental communication increases student achievement

Did you know… “The most powerful factor influencing reading skills is auditory processing skill…the very skill that is honed as infants listen to parents speak to them in sophisticated, adult language.”

Did you also know that … “A significant portion of a person’s intellectual capacity is determined in his or her first 36 months.” Hart and Risley observed three categories of parents and their children during the first 30 months of their childrens’ lives. “Average parents” spoke 1,500 words per hour to their children, “talkative, college‐educated parents” spoke an average of 2,100 words per hour to their children, and “welfare families” spoke only 600 words per hour to their children.

By age 36 months, the children of talkative parents had heard their parents speak 48 million words to them, while children in welfare families had heard 13 million words. “Interestingly, the most powerful of these words, in terms of subsequent cognitive achievement, seemed to be those that were spoken in the first year of life – when there was no visible evidence that the child could understand what the parents were saying.”

Follow‐up research indicated that “… children who have been lavished with extra talk have an almost incalculable cognitive advantage compared to those who have not been.” Extra talk works whenever and by whomever it is applied. Parents can be of any racial, educational, or socioeconomic background. So, if we want to improve student achievement, have adult conversations with your children from the day they are born.

— Research by Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley


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