By Tim Fanning
SARASOTA — Reading, singing, or just talking to a small child can help close the 30-million-word gap children from low-income families hear by the time they are in kindergarten compared to their more affluent classmates.
Talking is Teaching, a summer pilot program, hopes to help parents recognize their power to boost their child’s early brain and vocabulary development through simple, everyday actions. Vocabulary development during early schooling is linked to later reading skills and general success in school.
Throughout the summer, posters, flyers and bookmarks with conversational tips for parents will be available at All Faiths Food Bank’s Sprout trucks, Boys and Girls Clubs, public libraries, Sarasota Memorial Hospital and Children First and Forty Carrots classrooms.
“Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” is part of a national public awareness and action campaign that encourages parents and caregivers to talk, read and sing more with their young children from birth.
Research indicates that basic interactions with young children — such as describing objects seen during a walk or bus ride, singing songs, or telling stories — can build vocabulary, prepare kids for school, and lay a strong foundation for lifelong learning. By age 3, studies show, children from poor neighborhoods or from lower-income families may hear up to 30 million fewer words than more privileged youth.
“This pilot came as a result of discussions with our nonprofit partners on how to get young children ready to read,” Teri A Hansen, president of the Barancik Foundation, said in a statement. “These partners suggested a local Talking is Teaching campaign, encouraging parents to talk, read and sing to their children daily.”
“We are pleased to partner with Too Small to Fail which provides open-source materials, resources and guidance, making it easy to start a campaign in our community,” Hansen said.
The Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation and its nonprofit partners announced the summer pilot program June 1 at the kickoff of All Faiths Food Bank’s Summer Hunger Program.
Parents and early educators are encouraged to visit talkingisteaching.org to see and share resource materials online.