Montessori in the Press
30,000 Words a Day Keep Children Mentally
Healthy, Says Study
By Brant McLaughlin, Infoture, PRNewswire
BOULDER, Colo., Aug. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- For children between birth
and age 3, the most powerful number is 30,000 -- the number of words
they need to hear every day from their parents and caregivers, to
ensure optimal language development and academic success, according
to the Power of Talk research study, released today to healthcare
Infoture, a Boulder-based company, is receiving international recognition
for its Power of Talk study, which expands on the well-known benchmark
study by Dr. Todd Risley, Ph.D., and confirms that young children
who hear at least 30,000 words a day will thrive regardless of race,
ethnicity or socioeconomic status. That's the same number heard in
18 and a half readings of Dr. Seuss' "The Cat in the Hat."
"When parents share their children's output of words with me,
I remind them that it's actually the input that matters. The parents'
and caregivers' words are what really count," said Steven Perry, M.D.,
pediatrician with Cherry Creek Pediatrics in Denver. "It's not educational
toys, TV or videos that make your child smart and well-adjusted; it's
talk. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that
children 2 years and under not watch any TV or videos, but spend quality
time with caregivers instead."
Conducted by a team of scientists, including language experts and
speech technology engineers, the Power
of Talk study examines the relationship between talk and child
language development. Some key findings include:
Infoture used revolutionary technology to develop a system that measures
the quality of a child's natural language environment and language
development through the number of words and conversational turns.
Named LENA (Language ENvironment Analysis), this device is now available
to parents for tracking words and conversational turns with their
children. The LENA feedback reports help parents improve a child's
cumulative language experience and accelerate that child's language,
cognitive development and preparedness for school.
- Parents estimated they talked more with their children than
they actually did.
- Parents of advanced children in the 90th to 99th percentile
on language assessments spoke substantially more to their children
than did parents of children who were not as advanced.
- Most language training for children came from mothers, with
mothers (both working and stay-at-home) accounting for 78 percent
of total talk.
- Mothers talked more to daughters than they did to sons.
- Parents talked more to first-born children than to children
who followed in the birth order.
- Most adult talk between parent and child occurred in the late
afternoon and early evening.
Jill Gilkerson, Ph.D., director of language research for Infoture,
helped author the Power of Talk study. "Most parents want to provide
outstanding language environments for their children -- but they have
no way of knowing what level of language input their children are
receiving. They are not aware of inconsistencies and low-talk times
during a day or week," said Gilkerson. "With LENA, parents can make
educated choices based on real information and not on guesswork. And
that means they have one less thing to worry about. In fact, the LENA
reports might be compared to food journals that dieters keep, because
the perception of how much a person eats (or in this case, talks)
is often far different from the reality."
Infoture's local roots and community commitment inspired the company
to offer 100 free devices to pediatricians in Colorado with low-income
patients who might benefit from LENA's measurement and data collection.
Through the end of the year, physicians and speech and language pathologists
can visit http://www.lenababy.com
and request a free device for a family with financial and developmental
In addition, Infoture has made a donation to Reach Out and Read Colorado
to fund five "literacy corners" (reading nooks with stacked bookcases
in pediatrician waiting rooms) in Pueblo, Greeley, Grand Junction,
Alamosa and Lamar. Reach Out and Read volunteers staff the literacy
corners and offer advice to parents about the importance of reading
aloud. Infoture is also providing curriculum for Denver area hospitals'
prenatal and parenting classes to teach new parents about the importance
of talking with newborns. Statewide outreach to associations and educational
groups is part of Infoture's ongoing commitment to reach parents and
caregivers with healthy information.
"Talk is for everyone," added Mia Moe, director of marketing
for Infoture. "A solid foundation in language advances a child's potential
and future academic success, regardless of socioeconomic status. If
we can focus on talk as the number-one priority, then all children
can be successful."
Founded in 2004, Infoture, Inc. is the Boulder-based developer of
LENA, or the Language ENvironment Analysis system. Infoture's goal
is to help parents accelerate their child's language, cognitive and
social development by providing a means to measure their child's language
environment, and to communicate this information so parents can provide
the richest language environment possible. Infoture comprises a team
of world-class scientists skilled in computerized speech and speaker
recognition, microelectronics, statistical research, and children's
language acquisition and development. For more information, visit