Listen to Your Mother
Young children face a remarkable challenge in learning to use the language of their culture. Toddlers vary widely, however, in the rate at which they learn new words.1 A team of Harvard Graduate School of Education researchers set out to ask whether and how children's language environment can impact vocabulary development. In their study of mother-child pairs from low-income families, they found that mothers who used many different words (not just many words) had toddlers with faster growth in vocabulary use. During the toddler and preschool years, most children learn to use hundreds of words, combining them into sentences and engaging in conversation with others. From previous research, we know that variation in vocabulary growth relates to child characteristics like gender, and also to parental factors. What did they find? 1Huttenlocher, J., Haight, W., Bryk, A., Seltzer, M., & Lyons, T. (1991). 2Bauer, D.J., Goldfield, B.A., & Reznick, J.S. (2002). 3Hoff-Ginsberg, E. (1998).
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