Studies show a large learning gap between poor and wealthy children, according to a New York Times article. And although not all researchers agree on what specifically causes this disparity, there is one idea that is becoming increasingly popular: The amount of conversation a child is exposed to as a baby.
A child born to high-income parents is more likely to hear more words and have more conversational interaction by the time they are a toddler, than a child born to low-income parents, according to research by Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley at the University of Kansas.
The Providence Talks Program based on the research by Hart and Risley, aims to narrow the learning gap by collecting conversation data from families eligible for early childhood home visitation services. The families would be equipped with a recording device which would measure the amount of words the child hears in a day. The families would also receive coaching from the home visit counselor.
Other reports have also shown the benefits of early childhood visits to a child’s early learning development.
The Healthy Start Coalition provides prenatal and postnatal home visits to high-risk women and infants through one year of age enrolled in the Healthy Start program. One program implemented within Healthy Start in Duval County, the Nurse-Family Partnership, provides home visits to low-income mothers throughout their pregnancy and the first two years of their child’s life.