Sharing an interesting NPR article

Research on Boston Basics Program
We learned this week that where you live can determine your future success. And its these socio-economic factors that trickle into our schools, giving some kids a better quality education than others. That’s the achievement gap in a nut shell. But did you know that researchers can start to see signs of that gap in kids as young as 18 months old? Research also tells us that about 80 percent of brain growth happens in the first three years of young person’s life, and it’s in these crucial years where the gap between kids really becomes apparent.

 

 

NPR Ed’s very own Elissa Nadworny traveled to Massachusetts to study a program called the Boston Basics that says you can close the learning gap by following five basic principles. Here’s what she found:

  1. Maximize love, manage stress. Babies pick up on stress, which means moms and dads have to take care of themselves, too. It’s also not possible to over-love or be too affectionate with young children. Research shows feeling safe can have a lasting influence on development.
  2. Talk, sing and point. “When you point at something, that helps the baby to start to associate words with objects,” Ferguson explains. Some babies will point before they can even talk.
  3. Count, group and compare. This one is about numeracy. Babies love numbers and counting, and there’s research to show they’re actually born with math ability. Ferguson says caregivers can introduce their children to math vocabulary by using sentences that compare things: “Oh, look! Grandpa is tall, but grandma is short” or “There are two oranges, but only three apples.”
  4. Explore through movement and play. “The idea is to have parents be aware that their children are learning when they play,” Ferguson says.
  5. Read and discuss stories. It’s never too early to start reading aloud — even with babies. Hearing words increases vocabulary, and relating objects to sounds starts to create connections in the brain. The Basics also put a big emphasis on discussing stories: If there’s a cat in the story and a cat in your home, point that out. That’s a piece lots of parents miss when just reading aloud.

You can read more about the Boston Basics program here, and you can read more of Elissa’s reporting here.