Not every child is exposed to a rich language environment.

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Screen Shot 2019-10-11 at 5.19.15 PM.pngChildren from low-income families hear approximately 600 words every hour, whereas children from higher-income families hear approximately 2,000 words an hour. This 30 million word gap leads to dramatic differences in vocabularies of 18 month old children, which increase significantly between 18 months and 24 months. 

  1. Children from impoverished environments may experience pronounced disparities in cognition, academic performance, IQ and school readiness early on that persist throughout the child’s lifetime. This inequality may be attributable to a large disparity in children’s early-language environments.
  2. Children from low-income families hear approximately 600 words every hour, whereas children from higher-income families hear 2,000 words an hour. Throughout the course of three years, this accumulates into a 30 million word gap between low income children and children from higher-income families. This 30 million word gap contributes to the stark disparities in academic performance and is influenced by a generational lack of access to education and language nutrition.
  3. Differences in early language environments lead to dramatic differences in vocabularies of 18 month-old children, which increase significantly between 18 months and 24 months. 
  4. Children who have heard fewer words since birth, are likely to know fewer words and have a less diverse vocabulary by age three.
  5. Children who are ill-prepared to start school are often unable to catch up, and thus, the achievement gap widens. Educational researcher Gloria Landson-Billings suggests that the achievement gap leads to an “educational debt” (analogous to the concept of a “national debt”), at the core of which is a generational lack of access to quality education. This “educational debt” becomes a cyclical process that brings socioeconomic co-morbidities such as illiteracy, under- or unemployment, health and behavioral issues and poverty.

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Bridging the Word Gap

The relationship between socioeconomic status and the word gap may be mediated by parents’ knowledge of child development. Knowledge about child development and how to support it seems to predict the frequency and quality of a parent’s communication with her child more than income or level of parent education. Therefore, efforts must be made to bridge the 30 million word gap, narrow the achievement gap and foster educational success for all children, regardless of the family’s socioeconomic status. Empowered Education and GoMo Health aim to help build that bridge.

Ralph Nader on Early Childhood Education.

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When Ralph Nader visited Atlanta I shared our pilot programs for new moms, now named Educare, with him over a coffee.

Here are some of Nader’s thoughts regarding parents’ involvement in early childhood education. 

Nader believes education is clearly a significant factor in enhancing the future of impoverished children. Education levels bear heavily on efforts to bring families out of poverty and in providing livable wages for low and moderate and middle-income families.

Nader is adamant, “We need to invest in the nation’s children. We must assure an adequate safety net, health care, higher quality and more plentiful child care and vastly better educational opportunities, particularly as early as Kindergarten.” 

Parental responsibility should be encouraged by finding ways to help support parents in their efforts to help support their children as more families confront economic conditions demanding a greater deal of time be spent away from home. Parents should be as involved as possible in their children’s education; values do start with parents.

We both believe that early parental involvement is a way in which elementary education can be changed to make a real difference in the lives of our children.

Does Global Warming Mark the End for Chocolate?

schokoladeWhen anything bad happens we can usually count on one thing to make us feel better…chocolate. After all, there’s nothing like a good candy bar or pain au chocolat to comfort us in times of trouble. But what happens when the cruel world decides to target our chocolate supply? Continue reading

5 Things We Can Learn From Groundhog Day

I read this story on thebigthink.com a while back and watching Groundhog Day, yet again, decided to revisit this post.

Every year on Groundhog Day, along with waiting for the verdict on the length of winter from the world’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, TV stations across the country dust off the 1993 movie Groundhog Day.

Some believe that the cult-classic starring Bill Murray is a film that illustrates the concepts of Buddhism and achieving enlightenment. In the film, weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) relives the same day over and over again until he gets it right through hard work, self awareness, and sacrifice.

The movie’s writer, Danny Rubin, understands the connection to Buddhist beliefs, but says he did not design the story around any one religion. “Everybody seems to bring their own way of thinking and their own discipline to bear on the ideas within it,” Rubin says.
Regardless of your religious persuasion, here are a few universal truths for living we can all take from Groundhog Day:

1. Be kind to others. On Phil Connors’ “perfect day” he saves a child’s life, helps two women change a tire, gives a newlywed couple wrestling tickets, and completes many other good deeds. He even buys insurance from annoying salesman, Ned. Bing!

2. Try different things. If your life becomes a redundant cycle of work and sleep, there’s still time to try new things. Take up ice sculpting or learn to play piano, you never know when it will come in handy.

3. You can’t fight the weather or who you are. Ironically, Phil the weatherman tries to deny the coming blizzard because it doesn’t fit in with his life. Only when he accepts his situation does he begin to grow as a person. Work with what you have; people will love you for that.

4. To find real love work on you. Phil learns everything about his love interest Rita, down to her favorite ice cream. But what she really falls in love with is his passion for life.

5. Life is what you make it. As Rubin says, at first for Phil Connors it’s “the worst day of his life. And, by the end of the movie, we see that it’s the exact same day but somehow this is probably the best day of his life.”

K-cups were killing my budget!

Keurig coffeemakers have certainly grown in popularity over the last few years. The ability to make a single cup of a particular flavor of coffee on demand has been a huge selling point for these appliances. As awesome as that sounds, the convenience of the Keurig comes with a price.

Keurig brewed coffee Is more expensive than traditional methods. If you buy a 24 count  K-Cup, generic, variety pack for $14.99, a single K-Cup will cost you $0.63.

Of course Keurig is far cheaper than Starbucks

While Keurig-brewed coffee costs more than traditionally brewed coffee, consumers can still save a significant amount of money over the long run by using a Keurig brewer rather than buying a daily drink at Starbucks.

You could save roughly $1.25 a day or $456 a year assuming you forgo a daily $1.75 twelve-ounce cup of coffee from Starbucks and instead make a cup of coffee from your Keurig.

We went a step further and compared store bought K-cups to the cost of brewing a cup of coffee using “reusable” K-Cups and our own favorite 12 ounce bag of ground coffee for $8.99.  The result?  We brewed 41 cups of coffee at approximately $0.22 per twelve-ounce cup.

Last time a cup of “Joe” was that cheap Woodrow Wilson was president.

Top 8 reasons why you should seriously consider dating a British girl.

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If you have always had a passion for meeting women of different cultures and nationalities, you may have wondered whether your fantasy date is a sexy Spanish senorita, an enchanting Thai girl, or even a sultry Ukrainian woman.  I suggest perhaps that you really must consider adding a proper British girl to the mix.

I only know a handful of British girls but after meeting a very lovely Brit named Beatrice recently I composed a list of my top 8 reasons why I think you should seriously consider dating a British girl.

First and foremost they have style.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      With world famous designers such as Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, and Paul Smith Brits have got a style all their own. They always dress to impress and take influence from famous fashionistas such as Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and the latest royal trendsetter; Kate Middleton. 

They know how to dress whether it’s for a ball, the races, or a glamorous cocktail party, take a Brit with you and she will definitely know how to stand out from the crowd.

They’ve got class.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Having grown up with royalty all of their lives, one thing instilled in these girls from a young age is class. They are ladylike, they have good table etiquette, they are certainly well mannered and respectable. On top of this, they can speak to anyone and will cope well in any social situation. I dropped my new friend in the middle of a party of strangers and before the end of the evening she knew something about everyone there and they knew something about her.

They have great taste in music.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                            They come from the country that produced The Beatles,The Stones, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Adele, and Coldplay – so it’s a given that their musical taste will be right on the money.

They have a great sense of humor.
                                                                                                                                                                        Britain is the land of Monty Python, Mr Bean, and The Office – dating English girls is not for those of us who don’t love to laugh, because you know she won’t take herself too seriously. They grew up watching comedy legends and they are known for their wit, their love of sarcasm, and their great sense of humor. If you want to have a fun time, you can be sure to have a good laugh with them.

They are very polite.
                                                                                                                                                                            Brits are generally very aware of others and incredibly polite. If she accidentally bumps into someone, she’ll say sorry without even thinking about it, it’s second nature. She will never forget to say “thank you” or “excuse me” and if forming an orderly queue (that is forming a “line” here in good old USA) was an Olympic sport, Britain would win gold! Rather than pushing past people, she will naturally stand in a line in any given situation – whether it’s at a bus stop, in a shop, or at an airport.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      These manners are something they have learned from a young age. They don’t like to “make a scene” so you’ll rarely see her complaining or showing herself up in public, she would rather stay quiet or say something very politely/indirectly yet succinctly to avoid embarrassment.

They are sweet, shy, and genuine.
                                                                                                                                                                            Brits are naturally reserved – she may not reveal everything and wear her heart on her sleeve the moment she meets you, but that’s all part of her charm. She guards her feelings like a family secret, and you can be sure that when she says something personal, she meant it. Even if it takes her a while longer to open up to you than other girls, you can be sure that if she says she likes you, it’s the real deal with a Brit. She rarely puts on an act or behaves falsely. Brits are as genuine as they come and you can trust what they say.

Britain is home to some serious beauties.
                                                                                                                                                                            The Spice Girls may have been your first crush, but it doesn’t stop there – the UK is home to Keira Knightly, Kate Winslet, Rachel Weisz, Kate Beckinsale, Kate Moss, Elizabeth Hurley, and many more drop-dead gorgeous ladies. Who knows, your fantasy woman may be hiding in the UK?

Their accents.
                                                                                                                                                                            I’ve saved the best for last, I’ll admit it, I can’t resist Beatrice’s accent! Whether it’s the way she says your name,  “lovely” or “cup of tea” – I am happily entertained with all of her British idiosyncrasies. In fact I like her accent so much I want Beatrice to record a “proper” answering machine message for my iPhone.

If you are lucky, you may even learn some British slang. So if you’ve ever wondered what a girl meant when she said you were a “damp squib” or says what you just told her was, “a complete load of tosh” – everything will make sense if you date a British girl.

With style, elegance, and a cheeky sense of humor; British girls have a great deal to offer.

My “New” New Year Resolutions

I have made countless New Year resolutions in my life and one thing is for certain unless I use them to set real achievable goals for myself by February 1 the resolutions are forgotten.

This year I will yet again have two sets of resolutions…one set of practical resolutions that will make my life richer or even easier in some cases. The other set are the resolutions that may be harder to accomplish because outside forces that I cannot control may get in my way.

Every year I set business goals but the economy often effects not only me but my clients as well. If they have a bad year no matter what I do I may find the going tough. I will keep this set as business objectives. My practical list seems easier to tackle anyway.

First, I will learn to type…sounds simple right? I set this exact same goal last year but this year attending a meeting at Intel I was embarrased as I watched all the execs typying their meeting notes feverously. I put my laptop away and just listened intently.

I am even now typing this and my other blogs using my patented “hunt and peck” method. I have had enough. I am the product of the “old school” Catholic school system.
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The boys took shop, the girls took typing…this made sense to the nuns. Why would a boy ever need to type and for God’s sake why would a woman need to learn to use tools? In my case the Sisters of Loretta added yet another wrinkle, the so called “smart” students should take Latin. They say that is helpful in learning other languages. I can tell you it has not helped even a “sukoshi,” a “nid noi,” or a “nemnogo”. If I had used those two years to learn more Spanish for example I would not be putting leaning Spanish on my “practical” resolution list.
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Second, lose weight. It has been a tough and challenging year…some folks don’t eat when they tackle stress, I binge. Comfort food has been the best way for me to cope in this tough economy. I believe that food beats Xanax but if I continue on this path I will be one ton by 20117. Pizza and Pasta are the trusted, “go-to” menu items for me and I will try to cut them from my roster.

I am sure exercise should be on the list but most people put that on their lists and quickly leave that resolution on the shelf. In my case I have joint issues as well so I would be dropping exercise like a bad habit first sign of pain.

Third, re-learn to play a musical instrument. I have tried a few instruments when I was a teen but now I really regret not sticking with any of them. I recently attended a holiday party and held a guitar in my hands the whole night and could only join in one old rock song, “Brown Eyed Girl” I think.

With Apple’s help it has become so much easier to learn instruments I will have little excuse to not at least give it a shot. This may be the toughest resolution on my list because it does require some musical talent as well as perseverance but I have produced a great deal of music in my career and I should at least know how to make some chords on the piano!  One stand-by song that I can call up at a party would be nice…”Stand By Me” perhaps.

This year is starting to shape up like Bill Murray’s experience in Ground Hog Day.
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The fourth resolution is one that I should be ashamed not to complete. In my career I have written countless scripts for TV commercials and short films but each one has been for a client or brand. Why I have not been able to write even a small script for myself is already a mystery. Knowing my career and history my colleagues have even urged me to take my shot at it.

With all my time abroad, in all of the exotic countries I have been posted I should have a wealth of material. The coups, natural disasters, jungles, cults, superstitions, and the sheer variety of cultures I have experienced will make a great backdrop for any story I choose to write.

All of the other resolutions should not even be on a list. They are all things we should be doing as good citizens of the earth and just good people in general. For example, I have a grand daughter and grand son. I won’t need a list to remind me to love them and spoil them any more than I already do…this comes naturally.

I do have one request for all my friends, be kind in 2016. We all need a little extra love and attention these days.