Closing the Word Gap for Low Income Children

As part of our Grow Up Great series, Steve Adubato sits down with four experts to discuss the “word gap” - where low-income children are exposed to 30 million fewer words than their higher-income peers before age 3. The panel addresses ways that parents, care-givers and teachers can help increase a child’s vocabulary, which ultimately leads to better academic sussess and lifelong skills. Guests include: W. Steven Barnett, Ph.D., Board of Governors Professor & Director, National Institute for Early Education Research, Rutgers University; Ora Welch, M.Ed., CEO & President, HOPES Community Action Partnership; Beth J. Cooper, Curator of Education, New Jersey State Museum and Cindy Terebush, Consultant, Early Childhood Education & Author, “Teach the Whole Preschooler: Strategies for Nurturing Developing Minds”.

7/1/17 #3012






"Welcome to Caucus. I'm Steve Adubato. You know, by the age of three, children born into low income families may hear 30 million words less than wealthier children. This is called the word gap. Here in the studio to discuss the word gap, we are joined by Ora Welch, President and CEO of Hopes Community Action Agency, Dr. Steven Barnett, he's been with us before, Board of Governors, Professor and Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, Cindy Terebush, Early Childhood Education Consultant, and finally, Beth Cooper, Curator of Education for the New Jersey State Museum. I want to thank all of you for joining us to talk about words that matter and its connection to our children growing up great. Doctor, let me ask you... you've been with us so many times before. We turn to you for insight and advice when it comes to our youngest children. What is this word gap and why does it matter so much? The word gap is really a knowledge gap. So years ago, before we had universal preschool in Newark, we tested kids when they entered kindergarten. Average child in Newark had a vocabulary that was 18 months behind where they should have been. It's closely tied to parent education and family income. It's about half the gap in a child's ability that's there when they graduate high school. So, when we worry about the achievement gap, we're really worried about this early learning opportunity and word gap. Okay so, let's talk about this. It's one thing to talk about the reasons for it. We'll keep talking about that. Help us understand what the impact that has on a child's growth development and ability to, dare I say, grow up great, and ultimately, be the best he or she can be. Well, we have children who need to have early childhood education so that they can have the opportunities to practice and learn. The same as children who are in more affluent homes. What happens to these children? When they... if they don't have the vocabulary they need, right? Which is the knowledge. What impact does it have on their ability to interact with other people? To learn, to engage..."