Thursday, August 20, 2015

Please Give 2-year Olds Homework!

Bathroom Reading by Jay Ryness
Whoa...did the title scare you enough to click whatever link got you here? Hang on...it was not merely click-bait to get you here to bump up my Google Ads account. Read on...

What if we had a magic tool that could do all of the following:

  • improve the ability for kindergarteners to self-regulate?
  • reduce anxious behavior and temper tantrums?
  • increase the odds of getting a college education?
  • increase the chance of having a 401K?
  • improve the likelihood of owning a home?


Sound too good to be true? NOPE! The magic tool is simply to increase the vocabulary of our toddlers.

While I am certain to be doing a little reductionist thinking, indulge me a little bit.

Studies have shown that toddlers with bigger vocabularies are better prepared for kindergarten later. We also know that "at kindergarten entry, those who had bigger vocabularies at an early age had higher reading and mathematics achievement and fewer problem behaviors like being disruptive, having temper tantrums or being physically aggressive." In turn, students with higher reading and mathematics achievement at kindergarten tend to continue experiencing academic success in ensuing school years. The result, naturally, is college education, a 401K, and owning a home.

So, my thinking looks like this...
The big question...What causes a strong toddler vocabulary? What goes in the box with all the question marks? Because that is the secret sauce to get the whole ball rolling.

Here are some simple things to do at home (this is the homework part):

  • talk to your toddler
  • ask open-ended questions rather than yes/no questions
  • talk out loud in your child's presence about what you see and notice
  • watch what your toddler is doing and narrate it for them
  • read, read, read, and then read some more to them

The magic tool? Read and talk with your child. The more, the better!

Start reading with your child. Start talking with your child. Watch the magic do its work.

For more on this, please check out American Radioworks' podcast on the miracle of The Perry Preschool Project, the inspiration for Head Start.
(If you don't see the above embedded podcast player, you may need to tell your browser to show it. For Chrome, that means clicking on the silver shield in your browser search bar.)