Chapter 6 Summary- THESocial Consequences

I can summarize Chapter 6 in one sentence: Thirty MIllion Words (TMW) helped parents understand that they have the power to help their children reach full potential.  However, this is a book study for PD credit…

Dr. Suskind highlights the social consequences:

In program development, there is a paradox because parents are often an afterthought.  To really set children up for success in the established education programs (K-12), it is “school readiness” which is imperative.  The lack of “school readiness”, which occurs prior to entry into K-12 education, is what causes some students to be constantly ‘catching up’. Dr. Suskind writes that an ideal program for birth-to-three would be set in the home to help parents by setting language goals, providing careful monitoring to help parents achieve the language goals, and have built in procedures for evaluation and improvement.  With program success dependent on a strong support system.  ~Is First Steps similar to this?

Annettee Lareau, author of Unequal Childhoods, published her research in which 12 families from across socioeconomic backgrounds, each with a 9-to-10 year old child, were intimately studied.  What was similar? “All families want[ed] their children to be happy and to grow and thrive.”  What was different? Professor Lareau used the term “concerted cultivation” – very similar to Dweck’s Growth Mindset- to describe the interactions parents from Middle Class families engaged in with their child[ren].  They were constantly driving them to and fro various activities, leading highly structured and planned lifestyles, with much talking which included debate and discussion.  Families with lower SES, were described using the term “natural growth”- very similar to Fixed Mindset- observed as less structured, and with a heightened focus on obedience and respect for authority.  Communication was not characterized by discussion and debate in these families from lower SES, however they used simple directives.  Suskind gives the example of a parent telling a child to go wash their face by simply holding out a washcloth and speaking one word: “bathroom”. ~Did Dr. Suskind’s explanation of this study create a blaring image for you? I can visualize the differing lifestyles and the daily vocabulary menu for each.

TMW went into a Maternity Ward and asked new mothers if they agree or disagree with this statement: “How smart your infant will become depends mostly on his or her natural intelligence at birth.”  Although the responses were not divided rigidly along SES class lines, the lower SES mothers were more like to agree with the statement than their higher SES counterparts.

Why?

When people are told over and over that they “can’t”, “Not you, you’re just not smart enough, you’ll never do it,” reinforced by numerous societal restraints, what is the outcome?

TMW met with these same mothers again for “Newborn Intervention”.  Although the results don’t yield as scientifically significant, following the intervention the mothers changed their view.  They

saw their newborns as cute, loveable, and having malleable potential.  This gives us hope!  ~Can we as SLPs influence parents to have a growth mindset?

The Moorman-Pomerantz Study looked at what impact parents mindsets (growth vs. fixed) have on a child’s test performance. Parents were divided into two groups.  The fixed mindset parents were told the test measures their child’s “innate” ability. Therefore, as expected, these parents were not constructive in helping their children.  They were criticizing, controlling, and much more likely to take the pencil from their child and complete the problem themselves.  On the other hand, parents given the growth mindset were not a full 180 in their interactions. The growth mindset parents were just less controlling and unconstructive.

Why?

Just because a parent has awareness that a child’s intelligence is malleable, does not mean they have the techniques to use this knowledge. ~How can we as SLPs spread the word about the Three T’s more widely? Social media?

Threcia, a mother of 6, had a 7th grade education, and spent her entire life working as a maid.  She was determined to push her children towards achievement and had very high expectations for them.  Therefore, her children had high expectations for themselves. One of her daughters, Portia, is now the Executive Director of Educare who’s 1st Early Childcare Center is now considered a National Standard for High Quality Learning.  Portia, started an Educare Alumni program for parents to share their success stories.  Portia attended and was impressed by their stories. She was excited to share their stories with her coworkers. However, some of her co-workers weren’t impressed. Portia felt burdened by the question/ existence of a “societal fixed mindset”.  ~Do we believe that somethings can never change?

I like this quote from author Wes Moore, “We are products of our expectations. Someone, at some point, put those expectations in our minds and we either live up to them, or live down to them.”  ~Personally I expect a lot from myself, and that was instilled in me by my loving parents.  Do my students have expectations for themselves? Do their parents set expectations and/ or dreams for them? Even if not, through my therapy sessions can I set expectations that will extend outside my classroom? And into my the children’s future? Can we, as SLPs, be a catalyst for increasing expectations?

The parents in TMW are an inspiration.  They were excited to build their child’s brain.  And against adversity at all odds.  These parents put in so much energy, coming from difficult lives filled with violence and unstable housing (couchsurfing, apartments in high crime areas, etc).  They worked hard to change from a fixed mindset.  The parents from TMW were reawakened to pursue their own dreams and reach their full potential.

Statistics tell us we have a problem and the science shows us how to solve it.

But how do we make the change?

It must be a conscious universal effort.  The necessities for children: food is second nature, but a rich language environment is fairly recent.  Everyone, parent or not, needs to know the importance of early language environment.

Ultimate Goal: All children have the chance to fulfill their potentials.

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8 thoughts on “Chapter 6 Summary- THESocial Consequences

  1. Marie Fisher says:

    Some thoughts that I had about this chapter….
    1- First Steps also came to my min when Dr. Suskind was discussing this “ideal program” for children birth-3 where parents are involved in language goals and monitoring.
    2- The most interesting part of this chapter to me was when Dr. Suskind discussed the student completed in a Maternity Ward. New mothers were asked to agree/disagree with the statement, “How smart your infant will become depends mostly on his or her natural intelligence at birth.” I think this student highlights the significance of advocacy in our job as SLPs to new mothers. Sometimes I wonder how much pediatricians share with new mothers in regard to language development? I do not have any kids so I have never been through those visits.
    3-I like how “expectations” are a main theme of this chapter. I compared Threcia to a mother I watched on Ellen DeGeneres the other day. A single mom raised two twin boys in an apt with no heat/air. They were very poor growing up but she made them believe that they were going to do “great things”. Both boys received full scholarships to ivy league schools this year. Ellen gave the mom vacations, money and praise for setting such high expectations for her boys despite her hard circumstance.

    • Rachel Lacap says:

      I often think that we, as SLPs, take for granted the amount of knowledge that we possess concerning language development. Even among educated and mid to higher level SES, these norms and developmental milestones in regards to play based skills and language skills is not common knowledge. I have witnessed it among members of my own family. And at times, pediatricians push aside language based concerns that parents may have, and attribute it to just being a “late talker” and then parents miss out on that every important birth-three window.

  2. Lisa Ehrie says:

    I totally agree that when developing programs for children, parents are often only an after thought. The more doctors, First Steps teams, SLPs, etc who can keep parents involved as KEY elements in early “programs” for children – the more progress and change in mind set we may see for future success. This idea of raising expectations and potential made me also think how important the “ripple effect” can be. Parents who feel involved and valued and who respond well to early education and ideas, the more this may impact how they interact with not only their own children but also to nieces/nephews and to other children from friends and family they spend lots of time with. As SLPs we can have a role in this…….

  3. Melissa G. says:

    This chapter depressed me somewhat. Some thoughts that kept circling in my mind: I don’t see these students until they are at least 5 years old and usually older than that. So, I’m not able to educate their parents until after the “window has started to close”. Also, I keep searching for some handouts that are easy to read and yet informative on these topics to give to parents. Everything I find is too complicated or not really explaining the art of Parent Talk. I guess that might be a good summer project for myself which can then be parlayed into a “professional growth goal” for next year. Another thought that kept circling is about day care centers. The book talks about early childhood programs but I keep thinking about the days when I was searching for a day care center for my babies. So many working moms rely on daycare for infants and toddlers and I remember desperately trying to find one that I felt comfortable leaving my baby. How can we reach daycare workers that spend eight or more hours a day with babies during these formative years but that are not necessarily connected to the school system or specialized early education programs? Or are they? I don’t know.

  4. Sarah Niemann says:

    I think the statement “just because a parent has awareness that a child’s intelligence is malleable, does not mean they have the techniques to use this knowledge” is very important. Although I am not a parent, I know a lot of information about what I “should or need” to do related to lots of areas but sometimes get stuck on how to go about it. Or I just get overwhelmed and do nothing for the moment which may turn into a lot longer than just a moment. I was thinking about handouts for the 3T’s to assist parents but also videos. I like to have reading material as a reference but also thought of the possible benefit of having example videos of the 3T’s in action for parents to watch. Granted some might not have access to technology themselves but potentially video modelling of how to use the 3T’s could be part of home programs, at the doctors, etc. I have never been through the routine of pediatrician visits either but remember my sister telling me that when she took my niece for her 2 year old check-up, the pediatrician asked if she could say 10 words. I was shocked at how low the number was set for a 24 month old. One my sister said yes, the pediatrician moved on to the next milestone unrelated to language. It made me wonder if this experience is the norm or rare.

  5. Karen says:

    Wouldn’t it be great if parents were required to attend parenting classes that spoke to language development and communication. Things that I think are common knowledge, like “talking to your child” are not always present in new parents. There have been times when students enter school as a kindergartner with no previous therapy or testing that are blatantly developmentally delayed with severe communication needs. First Steps failed to “find” these kids! We need to ensure that pediatricians do a better job at referrals as well..

  6. Erica Hayes says:

    I wish that we had more opportunities to work with parents to teach them the 3Ts or whatever strategies we think will work for our child. Clearly, we know that would be beneficial, but how? I keep thinking that there has to be a way through technology that I could do a better job of this. I wonder about doing some sort of email distribution, blog, or some other way of sharing videos and information. I would love to be able to send a link to good websites or videos. I would also love to share videos of activities we do in our self-contained classrooms to teach parents new ways to interact with their kids. I would be concerned with this being a breech of confidentiality to share something like this to a group of parents and just putting it online at all. What are your thoughts? Has anyone done anything like that or know of a good website or app that could be used in this way?

  7. Carolyn Dent says:

    The growth versus fixed mindset is something that I will keep in mind as I interact with my students moving forward. Although I think we, as SLPs, already do this without putting much thought into it (shaping, prompts, models, encouragement) I will make more of an effort to encourage a language rich interaction that includes encouraging rather than factual dialogue.

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