Bridging the 30 Million Word Gap


Nearly every educational skill begins with reading, and the foundation for reading is vocabulary – understanding and using words. Vocabulary development starts long before a child can speak. Children need exposure to as many words as possible, starting at birth. Unfortunately, research shows that by age 3 children from low-income families are exposed to an average of 30 million fewer words than children in wealthier families.

Education researchers Betty Hart and Todd Risley called this imbalance, “the 30 Million Word Gap,” and it impacts every level of a child’s future, from crib to career.

Lack of exposure to language at a young age results in limited vocabularies for children on the lower end of the word gap. These children often struggle throughout life, facing challenges in school, having fewer long-term educational and career options, and being unable to break the cycle of generational poverty that is prevalent throughout Georgia.

The 30 Million Word Gap is at the core of many of the challenges facing Georgia, and we need your help to bridge the gap. By focusing on early childhood education and language development, we can give our children the tools they need to learn and begin to break the cycle of generational poverty.

You can help shape the future.


Bridging the gap starts at home, and it starts from birth. Research shows that birth to age 3 is the most critical time for language development. The words a child hears during this time have a direct impact on the course of her entire life. Parents, you can take some important steps to ensure that you are constantly creating an environment for learning in your home.

  • Talk to your child whenever you do activities together. Even if they don’t understand what you’re saying or doing, your words and actions help them build mental connections and learn language.
  • Read stories with your children each night. But don’t just read to them – use the READ strategy to build vocabulary and to teach her to associate words with emotions, facial expressions and illustrations.
  • Encourage every educator and caregiver in your child’s life to use Read Right from the Start strategies. Even simple things like talking with children about their day helps bridge the gap. It’s time for people to stop ignoring children and start including them in conversation.


Building vocabulary, language and comprehension in children is a team effort. Read Right from the Start strategies give you the tools to interact with children to promote these skills. Through Cox Campus, our online portal for educators to receive free continuing education, any educator can benefit from these teaching strategies. By learning to effectively talk to and engage the children in your care, you can put them on the road to a lifetime of achievement.

Contact us for more information on how you can help Georgia overcome the 30 Million Word Gap.

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