Quality Over Quantity

Deisy Ixcuna-Gonzalez, 16 months old, is in a new literacy development program in Providence, R.I. (Photography: Katherine Taylor for the NYT)

Deisy Ixcuna-Gonzalez, 16 months old, is in a new literacy development program in Providence, R.I.

(Photography: Katherine Taylor for the NYT)

Children’s literacy is taking center stage in the media today (yay!) since yesterday's White House conference on bridging the word gap. The conference focused on the latest findings from a study lead by the wonderful Kathy Hirsch-Pasek, which found that among low-income 2-year-olds, quality interactions with words were a better predictor of language skills than quantity of words. You can read more about the study in this article from the Times.

The main question this raises is how can we help kids and their loved ones have “quality interactions” with words.  And for us at Kindoma, how we can tap into the power of technology to help long-distance loved ones such as grandparents share the load of such  interactions.

The study’s author defines quality interactions as the use of shared symbols (“Look, a dog!”); rituals (“Want a bottle after your bath?”); and conversational fluency (“Yes, that is a bus!”).

Books provide a lovely venue to have such interactions.  Here are a few suggestions for engaging your child in quality interactions around books:

  • Leave words out and get children to fill in the word: “This pig built a house out of __”
  • Get children to recount what has happened in the story: “Can you tell me what happened to the three little pigs?”
  • Point to illustrations and ask about them: “Tell me what’s happening on this page”
  • Ask questions that start with what, when, where and why: “What material is this pig using to build this house?”
  • Help kids relate stories to their own lives: "Remember when we went to the farm and saw a pig? What other animals did we see?”

We really hope that Kindoma Storytime is key tool in promoting quality interactions around words!