Ron Ferguson, an economist at Harvard, has made a career out of studying the achievement gap — the well-documented learning gap that exists between kids of different races and socioeconomic statuses.
And yet, there's a whole body of research on how caregivers can encourage brain development before a child starts any formal learning. It's another example, Ferguson says, of the disconnect between research and practice. So he set out to translate the research into five simple and free ways adults can help their little ones.
"Things that we need to do with infants and toddlers are not things that cost a lot of money," he explains. "It's really about interacting with them, being responsive to them."
He calls his list the Boston Basics, and he's on a mission to introduce it to caretakers first in Boston and then across the country.
The principles are:
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It's hard to believe that what your child knows at age 5 could influence his future chances of success. But that's exactly what a 2015 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found.
But researchers discovered that the skills that predict future success had nothing to do with reading or writing. Instead, they say your child's social and emotional skills are what determine how likely your child is to go to college rather than end up in jail.