Middle-class children hear 33 million words by the time they start school - 23 million more than poorer children of the same age, a Government adviser has revealed.
According to Frank Field, the Governments advisor on poverty, collapse in parenting skills in poor homes with unstable families blights a child's prospects by the time they are three-years-old.
In a report on child deprivation, he said that wealthier children from stable homes will have heard 440,000 more positive comments from their parents than children from dysfunctional families by the age of three. As speech & language therapists know, the level of communication between a parent and child has a more drastic impact on a child's future than any other factor including class, race or income. The findings are only set to continue for future generations if action is not taken as young people brought up in dysfunctional families have no experience of being a good parent when it comes to raising their own children.
Mr Field aims to 'break into this cycle of deprivation so the whole thing is not automatically handed on the next generation'. He is calling for a 'parenting curriculum' at schools where pupils will learn about child care as well as a formal 'rites of passage' ceremonies attended by local mayors for children not christened.
Some of the latest research is very damning as it shows that youngsters who were behind when they started school never caught up to their peers. He blamed the situation on the low aspirations of parents trapped in poverty where no one in the family has worked for generations. These parents do not bother to play with, talk to or read to their children. Mr Field’s study warned that children’s life chances were almost entirely determined before they even got to school.
His report called for health visitors to measure children’s behaviour and communication skills from the age of two to catch youngsters who were falling behind in their development.
The reason I started Smart talkers Pre-School groups was an attempt to address some of these issues see www.smarttalkers.org.uk
What do you think? I'd love to hear your comments.