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.
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.
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.