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The 30 Million Words Initiative

Statistically, a child born into poverty hears 30 million less words than a child born into more affluent circumstances. These early language environments dramatically affect children's IQ, school performance and future. TMW is an initiative that's addressing that statistic by creating a curriculum for low-income parents to increase their child's vocabulary and measuring progress with the Lena word counting device.

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I loved hearing about mothers sharing the skills they've learned with other mothers even after the project had ended. I think there's potential in engaging whole communities with these kinds of conversations and passing of advice between mothers.

As mentioned in the PBS video, the Lena device records word counts, TV time, and periods without conversation. This has been found to be beneficial for both parents and researchers but raises questions about content of the conversations which suggests that quantity of words won't necessarily negate the quality of the conversation (i.e. hearing praise versus criticism). I think this opens up an opportunity to further develop the program by considering the life styles of the parents involved. What are the  daily opportunities for inserting positive conversation?


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One more bit of inspiration along this thread:

Goodby Silverstein launched the Talk, Read, Sing initiative and made kid's clothing with conversation prompts printed on it. Check it!

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