Beyond the Word Gap

These resources will help parents, professionals, and policymakers understand the importance of supporting early language and literacy and how best to do so.

The “Word Gap” has come to symbolize the gulf that can separate very young children who have rich opportunities for positive early learning experiences from those who do not. Science reveals that early language and literacy skills are important predictors of later success in school—and that as a group, children in families of lower socioeconomic means have fewer skills and know far fewer words than their more privileged peers.

How does our country close the word gap? Babies are driven to communicate to let the trusted adults in their lives know what they need, think, and feel. Developing language and literacy skills is about more than just hearing and learning words. It is about the social, back-and-forth communication that takes place through everyday interactions with parents, families, and caregivers which builds not only babies’ language skills, but also their thinking skills and their self-esteem. Strong language skills result from babies building close, nurturing relationships with trusted adults, which encourage babies to want to keep connecting and communicating.

ZERO TO THREE has long incorporated techniques for supporting the development of early language and literacy into comprehensive approaches to promote all aspects of young children’s healthy development and well-being. These resources will help parents, professionals, and policymakers understand the importance of supporting early language and literacy and how best to do so.

Apps and Interactive Media

Curriculum and Guides