Talking with Young Children is a Hot Topic Now

You’ve probably heard the saying: It takes a village to raise a child. I’d like to add: It takes a whole nation to raise a talker, a child who learns to understand and talk early on to build knowledge and other skills quickly in the future. It requires to raising national awareness of how important talking with young children is.

Why is talking with young children in the news now?

Talking with infants and toddlers is in the news because early word gaps under the age of two show that some children are not getting enough language-rich interactions. This makes it harder for them to build a strong foundation for future learning. A 2011 survey with kindergarten teachers across the USA showed that only 9% of the polled teachers rated children’s language skills as ‘strong’ when they entered kindergarten. So there’s a need to promote early language and learning.  Promoting early learning starts with conversations parents have with their little ones in their homes and this is why the nation’s spotlight is now on spreading the message: Talking and engaging with infants and toddlers is important!  

From TV ads, to leaders across the country, conferences, various organizations and programs, the message of the importance of talking and engaging with young children is gaining momentum. As a child language researcher, I’m of course delighted that this message is getting this kind of attention.

In June 2014 President Obama and other leaders across the country addressed the need to close the word gap and to support parents to help their children build a strong foundation for the future.

Listen to President Obama, Former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, Cindy McCain, and Bill Frist in their own words about this important issue at “Working Together to Close the Word Gap”.

Building awareness that talking with infants and toddlers matters

Joint efforts across the country, at the federal, state and local levels are now on the way to provide financial support, information, and support tools for parents on things they can do to improve their conversations with their young children. The support network is steadily growing: From the administration, to organizations such as the Clinton Global Initiative, Too Small too Fail, Next Generation, the American Academy of Pediatrics, public awareness campaigns like Vroom, and parent outreach programs in local communities such as Habla Conmigo, the goal is the same: To find ways to reach parents and give them the support and information needed to engage more and more effectively with their young children.

Click here for additional information on efforts to bridge the word gap, educational policies and more.