A recent review in The Hearing Journal of the Thirty Million Words book by Dr Dana Suskind (pediatric cochlear implant surgeon), confirms that the approach noted by psychologists Betty Hart & Todd Risley, equally works for infants and children with hearing difficulties.
Infant Spoken Language Exposure Is The Key
Suskind aimed to establish why children with cochlear implants and similar hearing patterns, had such divergent outcomes since the optimal age for implantation, at around one year old – and her findings closely parallel those of Hart & Risley (1995).
Early language exposure at home while the children are aged under three, builds emerging educational and life skills as the bedrock for all the childrens’ future learning. In short, ‘babies are made smart‘ through daily interactions with their parents and caregivers.
Spoken Language Leads Into Reading
What if you’d never heard the sounds of the letters, C, A, T, individually – or strung together? What would those symbols mean to you? Even though you live in a country where the word “cat” is universally known, even though you can sign for the animal “cat,” seeing C-A-T means nothing. That is the arduous road that a deaf child has to go through to learn to read. Knowing sign language does not help, because sign language consists of motions that indicate meaning but are not English in its written form.
Suskind concludes by adding “Turn Off” (digital devices) to the three ‘Ts’ in her book, (1) Tune In (2) Talk More and (3) Take Turns (to build intelligence and social skills in children).