The most expensive schools? The smartest phone? The fastest computer? When it comes to giving the best advantage to our children, it seems like a natural conclusion that top-dollar financial investment is a key component. We see this all the time with new and expectant parents who rush out to buy the fanciest gadgets and top of the line products for their little bundle of joy. But what if the single best thing you can do for your child was absolutely free—and something that you do every day? Sound to go to be true?
After decades of research, scientists have concluded that one of the most crucial factors for academic success is how much parents talk to their babies. Children exposed to “child-directed speech” learned more words faster than those who simply overheard conversations. Turns out making eye-contact, engaging and speaking directly to your child helps them develop pathways for learning language. Many hope that by educating parents on the importance of talking to babies and toddlers, we can close some educational gaps for lower income children even before they go to school. By all means, parents can still play Mozart near the crib, and invest in educational toys, but just keep the conversation going with your child. Introduce new words, point out visual clues and just keep talking. That is, until they are teens. At that point, it might be more effective to just send a text.