Thursday, May 09, 2013

Power of Talk

According to a recent opinion piece in the New York Times, "the key to early learning is talking — specifically, a child’s exposure to language spoken by parents and caretakers from birth to age 3, the more the better." The author goes on to describe a new initiative in Providence Rhode Island where home visitors will be trained to help parents increase the amount of family conversation in their home. The goal is to increase the number of words per hour, per week and per 3-year old lifetime. Research has found that children who hear more words, and who engage in more conversations do significantly better in school. All this made me think about how HIPPY supports the power of talk in our families.

The HIPPY curriculum is the key to this. Our HIPPY parents are provided with written materials that suggests specific dialogue for parents to speak to their children. Some educators have challenged us on this method - saying that our materials are too rigid and that parents need to use their own words not a suggested dialogue. In fact, parents learn from the suggested dialogue and adapt it to their own style. The curriculum gives parents a successful strategies for the following:

  • Questions to ask during and after reading a story
  • Giving a child directions and instructions, beginning one step directions for 3 year olds, and onto two and three step instructions as children develop
  • How to introduce a new concept to a child
  • Giving a child opportunities to share his/her opinions and ideas
  • Helping a child identify his/her feelings
Additionally, while the curriculum begins in a highly structured format, by Age 5 it is quite open ended, expecting parents to apply the techniques on their own. These strategies have ensured that children are exposed to a great deal of conversation and vocabulary, and therefore are highly prepared for school!

Read the full New York Times article here

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