There is a lot of fascinating information in this ten-minute TED Talk related to speech development and the way in which babies acquire language, but the piece that I thought was most compelling (and glossed over to a certain extent) was the evidence supporting the importance of talking to your child. The research demonstrates that speech development and language acquisition does not happen when a baby watches a television or listens to a recording of speech. Language acquisition is a social skill learned only by listening to another person speak in real life.
Any kindergarten teacher can describe the extreme disparity between students entering school and how, regardless of the relentless efforts of teachers, that disparity can often persist throughout the student’s educational career.
Closing a gap that has had five years to grow is exceptionally difficult.
Some of these differences can be attributed to factors such as IQ, but many teachers (including me) will tell you that the predominant indicator of success in a child’s academic career is the child’s level of effort and the effort and participation of his or her parents.
That effort and participation begins as soon as the child is born.
Inherent intelligence is great, but effort crushes IQ every time.
So please, turn off the goddamn television and talk to your baby. Sesame Street is great, but save it for when your child is two years old, and then administer it in small doses and only after you’ve spent enormous amounts of time talking to your child.
Talk to your kid. Please.
Think of it was an investment. Spend the time now when your child is a language sponge, or spend the time and money later when your child is a young adult, living at home, unable to support him or herself.
I promise you that it’s a hell of a lot more rewarding to work with a two-year old than a thirty-two year old.
My apologies for the sermon. Every once in a while my dander gets up when it comes to issues such as these.
Especially when it comes to the goddamn television.