Robbinsdale ECFE Uses “Language Pedometers”
Robbinsdale’s Early Childhood and Family Education (ECFE) program uses “language pedometers” to help parents track how much they are talking to their young children. Research shows it’s good to talk to young children, even babies.
“Most parents think they talk more than they actually do,” says licensed parent educator Gerri Fisher, who teaches ECFE classes at the New Hope Learning Center. “This class was designed to help parents understand that it really does matter.”
Fisher says some parents only speak 600 words an hour to their children, while some parents can speak more than 2,000 an hour.
“Over the course of time, it becomes a gap,” says Fisher. “By age 3, there’s as many as 30 million words that kids are not hearing.”
To help bridge the “word gap,” the Robbinsdale ECFE program is incorporating recorders, nicknamed “language pedometers” into a few of their classes. The recorders fit inside a vest that a child wears for 24 hours. The recording is then downloaded and analyzed for the parent.
“It counts not only the adult words, but the number of times it was a conversation,” says Fisher. “Every week parents could look at reports and see how they did the previous week and then brainstorm ways to incorporate more language.”
Just like you wear a Fitbit to make you more aware of how many steps you take, the language pedometer helps you track how many words your child is hearing.
Parents Weigh In on Language Pedometers
Interested parents could sign up to use the language pedometer as a part of an ECFE class this spring.
“It’s fun to do and it’s fun to see what your results are,” says Sallie Haugen, who is the parent of 14-month-old Theo. “I talk a lot, so it wasn’t surprising that I talked a lot.”
Haugen says the information was reassuring.
“It’s good to know you are on the right path,” says Haugen. “I felt like at first it was big brother, but really it’s a computer tabulating words.”
Robbinsdale ECFE is investigating how to best use language recorders in classes in the future.