LAUP Launches Vocabulary-Building Toolset to Help Close 30-Million Word Gap Between Low- and High-Income Children

By exposing them to as many words as possible, parents have the power to boost their child’s development. As part of the rollout of its Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America commitment, Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP) recently rolled out a vocabulary-building tool, Take Time. Talk! Giving Children the Words They Need, to help Los Angeles County parents and caregivers increase the number of positive words children, ages 0-5, hear each day.

Studies show by the time children reach their third birthday, a 30-million word gap exists between children of the lowest and highest income families. This refers to the number of words children are exposed to before they reach kindergarten.

“This investment is really your best bang for your buck.” – Camille Maben

LAUP and its partners are empowering parents to give their child the best start possible. The “Take Time. Talk!” tip sheets offer demonstrations on how adults can talk more in-depth with their infants, toddlers and preschool-age children, at the grocery store, enjoying a meal, bath time and more.

For example, parents may ask their preschooler what their favorite vegetable is at a grocery store, then describe what it tastes and smells like. At bath time, they might be asked to name some animals that swim, then explain what is the same – and different – about each animal.

When parents and caregivers engage with their children by using open-ended questions that encourage them to think creatively and critically, they are giving children the foundational language and thinking skills they need to succeed in school and life.

“Every moment you spend with your child is a learning opportunity. We’re excited to empower families with something tangible that can eventually become second nature to them and their children,” said LAUP’s CEO Celia C. Ayala.

More than 530 early preschool and early childhood education providers in L.A. County have received training on how to use the vocabulary-building tips in the classroom and how to share it with parents. In addition, LAUP will be mailing 10,000 pocket-sized booklets of the tips to parents of preschoolers in the county.

The launch of the tool, which took place earlier this month at the Los Angeles Central Library, featured a panel discussion with experts addressing the issue of the 30-million word gap, early vocabulary and family engagement. Expert panelists included Dr. Anne Fernald, Director of the Center for Infant Studies at Stanford University; Dr. Ayala of LAUP; Alex Johnson, Executive Director of the Children’s Defense Fund-California; and Camille Maben, Executive Director of First 5 California.

LAUP’s CGI America partners include First Book, Lakeshore, Unite for Literacy, PHFE WIC, California State Library, California Library Association, Families in Schools and KLCS. Additionally, the commitment was shepherded by nationally preeminent word gap researchers, Dr. Dana Suskind of The University of Chicago, and panelist Dr. Fernald.

LAUP is funded by First 5 LA.

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