Closing the word gap
Providence Talks, the innovative and highly acclaimed program aimed at closing the word gap among the city’s youngest children, is now available to Providence early childhood educators as well as families.
Teaming up with Providence Talks, Ready to Learn revised the curriculum and model used for parents to meet the needs of educators. We piloted this new model with eight providers in the spring, and this month began offering the 20 hours of professional development to center- and home-based providers in English and Spanish.
The 20 hours, approved by the Center for Early Learning Professionals, includes 15 hours of class time and another five hours of individual work with facilitators over the course of two months. It is one of the few professional development offerings available to providers in Rhode Island that targets the language development of babies and toddlers rather than preschoolers.
To learn more about the program we’re offering to educators, and upcoming classes, call Ashleigh Bickerstaff at 401.443.2930, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Providence Talks, funded with a $5 million investment from Bloomberg Philanthropies, seeks to close the word gap that exists between children who grow up in low-income households and their more affluent peers. It was the grand prize winner in the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ 2012-2013 Mayors Challenge, a competition to inspire American cities to generate innovative ideas that solve major challenges and improve city life.
Children need to hear approximately 21,000 words per day for their vocabularies to develop at an appropriate pace. But research has shown that children growing up in less affluent homes hear significantly fewer words each day than their peers in middle and high-income households. In fact, by the time they reach their fourth birthday, they will have heard 30 million fewer words than their peers.
The original Providence Talks model supports families of young children – birth to 3 – who volunteer to participate. Providence Talks provides them with coaching, books, information on community resources, and a word pedometer for their young child, all designed to measure and increase conversational interactions at home.
Early results demonstrate that simple access to information can be powerful. In one pilot study, caretakers presented with data on their child’s vocabulary development increased their adult daily word count by 55% on average.
Providence Talks has been covered widely in the press, both here and abroad. Publications and other media outlets include The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, BBC News and The Atlantic.
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