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Language Rich and Life Ready

At DePaul School for Hearing and Speech, we build a solid foundation of spoken language skills for our students, all of whom are deaf or hard of hearing. The process of acquiring language begins at birth, and establishing a robust language environment during early childhood development is critically important for all children, not only those with hearing loss.  According to a research study by psychologists Betty Hart and Todd Risley—normally referred to as the 30 Million Word Gap Study—one of the greatest predictors of success in the classroom and beyond is exposure to a rich language environment from birth through age three.

Parents are a child’s first teacher, so a child’s initial path to success is paved by their home environment. So, what can parents do to close the gap?

Creating a language rich environment doesn’t require special materials or extensive training. It requires time. It requires parents to be present with their child and to open the doors to the “give and take” that conversation entails—starting long before the child can speak.

Reading to a child is a great way to share language, but it is by far the only way. Even the most mundane tasks can open the doors to building vocabulary. While cleaning up after dinner, talk about the water in the sink, and the fun of the bubbles, and the shapes of the dishes. When the child is playing, ask questions. “I see you have your toy car. Where are you going?” or “Puppy looks sad. Should we get him a treat?” The opportunities to create a language rich environment are nearly boundless, and the payoff for a child is immeasurable. So, the only question is what will you be talking about today?

For more information about great techniques to help create a language rich environment, visit our website at www.DePaulHearingandSpeech.org.

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