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:
- Maximize love, manage stress. Babies pick up on stress, which means moms and dads have to take care of themselves, too. It's also not possible to over-love or be too affectionate with young children. Research shows feeling safe can have a lasting influence on development.
- Talk, sing and point. "When you point at something, that helps the baby to start to associate words with objects," Ferguson explains. Some babies will point before they can even talk.
- Count, group and compare. This one is about numeracy. Babies love numbers and counting, and there's research to show...Continue reading