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research and results > Hart & Risley

Early Education for All, from strategiesforchildren.orgUniversity of Kansas child psychologists Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley found that the way parents and caregivers talk to kids has a significant effect on the child's I.Q., literacy and academic success later in life.

Hart and Risley observed 42 one- and two-year olds and their families for more than two years. Their study found that the frequency and quality of words a child hears during her first three years of life are critically important in shaping language development. Based on hourly differences, Hart and Risley estimate that children in professional families hear approximately 11 million words per year; children in working class families hear approximately 6 million words; and children in welfare families hear approximately 3 million words annually.

Hart and Risley study: more information... Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader

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