New research from Stanford University found that by the age of eighteen months, children from low-income families heard approximately 30 million fewer words then children from affluent families.
Anne Fernald, associate professor of psychology at Stanford, conducted research to determine how quickly and accurately young children identified objects based on simple verbal cues.
“By 2 years of age, these disparities are equivalent to a six-month gap between infants from rich and poor families in both language processing skills and vocabulary knowledge,” Fernald said. “What we’re seeing here is the beginning of a developmental cascade, a growing disparity between kids that has enormous implications for their later educational success and career opportunities.”
Despite the findings, Fernald does point to a silver lining in her research:
“The good news is that regardless of economic circumstances, parents who use more and richer language with their infants can help their child to learn more quickly.”