When do we start learning? Recent research suggests it’s as soon as we’re born. Which also suggests another advantage affluent families have over poor families — their children are exposed to more learning opportunities as preschoolers, thus giving them a head start when they get to school. One study estimated that this translates to a gap of thirty million words. In other words, a child of affluent parents will hear thirty million more words during toddlerhood than a child of poor parents. http://literacy.rice.edu/thirty-million-word-gap
Although some dispute this number, an initiative has been organized to close this gap, however large it turns out to be. It is appropriately called the “Thirty Million Words Initiative”, and it “develops and disseminates evidence-based, parent-directed programs that encourage parents to harness the power of their words to build their children’s brains and shape their futures.” http://thirtymillionwords.org/ This includes the book Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain.
Certainly children in families below the poverty line are at a disadvantage and education is the great social equalizer. Anything that can be done to improve education deserves support. So if you’re looking for a worthwhile charity this holiday season, this one deserves a look-see.