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Million Word Gap
May 13, 2019
Once when her brothers were fighting over who got more spaghetti for dinner, her mother said, ‘You don’t look at another person’s plate to see if they have more than you. You look to see if they have enough.
-Jodi Picoult, from A Spark of Light
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Writing on the Ohio State website, Jeff Grabmeier reports that:

“Young children whose parents read them five books a day enter kindergarten having heard about 1.4 million more words than kids who were never read to, a new study found.

This ‘million word gap’ could be one key in explaining differences in vocabulary and reading development, said Jessica Logan, lead author of the study and assistant professor of educational studies at The Ohio State University.

Even kids who are read only one book a day will hear about 290,000 more words by age 5 than those who don’t regularly read books with a parent or caregiver.”

And, in an Exchange article, "Supporting Parents in Guiding Early Language and Literacy Development" (which is the foundation for an Out of the Box Training Kit), author Bisa Batten Lewis provides these developmentally appropriate strategies for supporting infants’ language and literacy learning that can be shared with families:

  • Read to baby 3-5 times per day
  • Allowing baby to engage in reading with you (e.g. point, turn pages, and so on)
  • Actively talking with baby, with eye contact, about food, daily routines, outdoors, signs, pictures, books, and print in the environment
  • Singing songs, such as “If You’re Happy and You Know It”
  • Performing finger plays, such as “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”
  • Reciting nursery rhymes
  • Talking to baby about family photos
  • Listening to music with baby
  • Making sounds with baby using instruments or household objects
  • Making writing materials available for scribbling

Source: “A ‘million word gap’ for children who aren’t read to at home,” by Jeff Grabmeier, April 4, 2019, osu.edu





Out of the Box Training Kits

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The Out of the Box Training Kit, "A Muddy First: Play for Joy and Learning," helps teachers understand the benefits of mud play as a learning experience. They will learn ways to conduct and evaluate activities involving mud and other sensory play materials.

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Comments (1)

Displaying 1 Comment
Marjorie Brickley · May 13, 2019
Bank Street College
New York, NY, United States


The "million word gap" is based on flawed research that perpetuates a deficit-based approach to understanding parent/child communication. I fear that it encourages a continuation of symbolic violence against children and families of color. We need to stop.



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