Dana Suskind, M.D.
Pediatric cochlear implant surgeon and co-director of the TMW Center for Early Learning + Public Health at the University of Chicago
Thirty Million Words: Building a Childs Brain
A famous study by researchers Betty Hart and Todd Risley (1995) found that some children heard thirty million fewer words by their fourth birthdays than others. The children who heard more words were better prepared when they entered school. These same kids, when followed into third grade, had bigger vocabularies, were stronger readers, and got higher test scores. The bottom line: the kids who started out ahead, stayed ahead; the kids who started our behind, stayed behind. This disparity in learning is referred to as the achievement gap.
Dana Suskind, MD, Professor of Surgery and Director of the Pediatric Cochlear Implant Program at The University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital, learned of this thirty million-word gap in the course of her work as a cochlear implant surgeon. Along with her sister-in-law, Beth Suskind, she founded The Thirty Million Word Initiative, developing programs for parents to show the kind of parent-child communication that enables optimal neural development. The goal is to get parents to follow the three Ts: Tune in to what your child is doing; Talk more to your child using lots of descriptive words; and Take turns with your child as you engage in conversation.
NOTE: Dana Suskind spoke at two FAN events on September 17, 2015.
Both events will be moderated by Heidi Stevens, the “Balancing Act” columnist for The Chicago Tribune.
Event 1: 1:00 PM, Loyola University Chicago School of Law, 25 E. Pearson St., Chicago.
Dr. Suskind will be joined on stage after her presentation by Michael Kaufman, Director, Education Law and Policy Institute
Event 2: 7:00 PM, Skokie School Auditorium, 520 Glendale Ave., Winnetka.
Ms. Suskind is joined on stage with Diana Mendley Rauner, Ph.D., President, Ounce of