Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children

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P.H. Brookes, 1995 - Family & Relationships - 268 pages
11 Reviews
This study of ordinary families and how they talk to their very young children is no ordinary study at all. Betty Hart and Todd Risley wanted to know why, despite best efforts in preschool programs to equalize opportunity, children from low-income homes remain well behind their more economically advantaged peers years later in school.

Their painstaking study began by recording each month--for 2-1/2 years--one full hour of every word spoken at home between parent and child in 42 families, categorized as professional, working class, or welfare families. Years of coding and analyzing every utterance in 1,318 transcripts followed. Rare is a database of this quality. "Remarkable," says Assistant Secretary of Education Grover (Russ) Whitehurst, of the findings: By age 3, the recorded spoken vocabularies of the children from the professional families were larger than those of the parents in the welfare families. Between professional and welfare parents, there was a difference of almost 300 words spoken per hour. Extrapolating this verbal interaction to a year, a child in a professional family would hear 11 million words while a child in a welfare family would hear just 3 million.

The implications for society are staggering: Hart and Risley's follow-up studies at age 9 show that the large differences in the amount of children's language experience were tightly linked to large differences in child outcomes. And yet the implications are encouraging, too. As the authors conclude their preface to the 2002 printing of Meaningful Differences, "the most important aspect to evaluate in child care settings for very young children is the amount of talk actually going on, moment by moment, between children and their caregivers." By giving children positive interactions and experiences with adults who take the time to teach vocabulary, oral language concepts, and emergent literacy concepts, children should have a better chance to succeed at school and in the workplace.

Learn more about how parent and children's language interactions affect learning to talk in Hart & Risley's companion book The Social World of Children Learning to Talk.

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Review: Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children

User Review  - Ken - Goodreads

Everyone involved in education in the US, but especially those making education policy, must read this book. Read full review

Review: Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children

User Review  - Linda - Goodreads

A benchmark study about the effects of environment on the development of children. The initial differences were shown to have a long-term effects of the formative years. Read full review

Contents

Intergenerational Transmission
1
Sampling Childrens Developmental
21
Everyday Parenting
75
Copyright

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About the author (1995)


Betty Hart, Ph.D., began her career in the early 1960s at the Institute for Child Development at the University of Washington, where she participated in the original demonstrations of the power of learning principles in influencing young children. With Montrose Wolf and Todd Risley, she introduced the basic procedures of adult attention and time-out now routinely taught and used in teaching and parenting. She also helped introduce the procedures for shaping speech and language widely used in special education. In 1965, she and Todd Risley began more than 35 years of collaborative work at the University of Kansas, when they established preschool intervention programs in poverty neighborhoods in Kansas City. Their study of what children actually do and say in day care and preschool and their publications on incidental teaching from the empirical base for contemporary child-centered teaching practices in preschool and special education. Dr. Hart is now Professor Emeritus of Human Development at The University of Kansas, and Senior Scientist at the Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies at The University of Kansas. She has remained focused on the language development of preschool children.

Todd R. Risley, Ph.D., began his career in the early 1960s at the Institute for Child Development at the University of Washington, where he participated in the original demonstrations of the power of learning principles in influencing young children. With Montrose Wolf and Betty Hart, he introduced the basic procedures of adult attention and time-out now routinely taught and used in teaching and parenting. He also helped introduce the procedures for shaping speech and language widely used in special education. In 1965, Hart and Risley began more than 35 years of collaborative work at the University of Kansas, when they established preschool intervention programs in poverty neighborhoods in Kansas City. Their study of what children actually do and say in day care and preschool and their publications on incidental teaching from the empirical base for contemporary child-centered teaching practices in preschool and special education. Before his death in 2007, Dr. Risley was Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Alaska and Senior Scientist at the Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies at The University of Kansas. He served on many national boards and commissions, as Editor of the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, as President of the Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy and of the behavioral division of the American Psychological Association, and as Alaska's Director of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities.

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