Wow! It’s been a long time since I posted! I really don’t want to turn into one of those blogs who only posts to apologize about how long it’s been since I posted!
There are so very many words in my life right now. I am inundated by a word deluge.
Right, so there’s a visual estimate of me and the words in my life. Why so many words?
- I am helping teach preschool children literacy skills.
- I am teaching in English and Spanish and Somali.
- This means I’m brushing up on my Spanish and learning basic Somali language vocabulary.
- November was NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. I didn’t reach the goal but I did write 18,150 words. That’s a lot.
- I’m still reading and writing a bunch, or trying to.
- I’m also studying Chinese because why give up now?
So that’s a bunch of words, in four different languages. And a lot of time with very young children who benefit a ton from hearing and seeing lots of words.
The number of words spoken to a child has a direct correlation with their literacy skills and their academic success by third grade. Why is third grade important? Third grade is the grade when schools switch from learning to read to reading to learn. That is, schools aren’t teaching kids how to read anymore, they expect them to read to learn about other subjects by third grade.
That means how many words a child hears as a pre-kindergarten child has an effect on their vocabulary, vocabulary growth, and ultimately their enduring language skills as they grow up. You can read the write-up of the study by Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley here.
Not only that, but data supports that children flourish under an extremely high ratio of affirmatives, or positive, encouraging words, to prohibitions. I’m shooting for about a 6:1 or 7:1 affirmation vs. prohibition. That’s not always easy when children are literally banging their head on the floor, squirting yogurt, or generally screaming in the classroom, but I try.
Talking to children is extremely important, and it’s a big part of my job. And I get to do it in at least two languages every day (though I do try for all four).
I come home after my morning class and take a two hour nap. And then I learn some more words.