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Middle Class 5 Year Olds Speak Better Than Some Adults

Researchers from the University of Southern California have found that many middle class children start school with a better vocabulary than some parents from poorer families

The findings are based on a study of children in 42 families from ten months old.

Toddlers brought up in professional families hear an average of 2,153 words every hour compared with 1,251 words in working class families and 616 words in families on benefits, a study has found. Middle-class parents, it would seem, are talking to their children more than poorer families do.

Too many parents are putting children in front of the TV, according to educationalists, rather than reading and talking to them, forgetting that they, as parents, are responsible for their child's development and not the schools.

By the time they are 3, middle class children have a vocabulary of around 1,100 words – compared with 500 for children from less well-off families. Consequently, at five many well-off youngsters have a better vocabulary than parents from poor backgrounds. This gap leaves poorer children at a lifelong disadvantage.

January 2011
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