News

The University of Chicago Magazine | January 31, 2019 Earn as You Learn

An ambitious economic field experiment studies how financial incentives for students, teachers, and parents affect academic performance.

2019-01-31 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2019
NBC News | February 13, 2014 Education Nation 2013: Summit

The fourth annual NBC News Education Nation Summit, held October 6-8 at The New York Public Library, explored “What It Takes” for us as a nation to ensure students are successfully prepared for college, career and beyond. Leading experts and stakeholders – from parents and teachers, to policymakers and employers – delved into critical factors that impact students’ chances of success.

2014-02-13 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2014
The New York Times | August 25, 2013 Public Policies, Made to Fit People

Dr. Dana Suskind & the TMW Center are highlighted in a New York Times article about social scientists becoming more involved in policy.

2013-08-25 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2013
Slate | September 27, 2013 Baby Talk Bonanza

Suskind, a half-dozen staff members, and a rotating cast of student research assistants are developing strategies to get parents to engage their children in rich, meaningful conversation from the moment they’re born.

They’ve completed the first trial of their Thirty Million Words Project, in which Suskind’s staff visited the homes of low-income mothers on the South Side and trained them in a parent-talk curriculum they developed.

2013-09-27 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2013
Brookings Institution | October 25, 2013 How to Make Toddlers Smarter: Talk to Them

The 30 Million Words Project teaches at-risk families about the importance of talking at home. By distributing an innovative “word pedometer,” which tracks language in the home, as well as video- and live-coaching for families, the project led to a 32 percent increase in levels of talking in at-risk homes. Run by a cochlear implant surgeon at the University of Chicago, Dana Suskind, the program recently floated the idea a “Let’s Talk” campaign, modeled on Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move.

2013-10-25 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2013
Chicago Magazine | November 06, 2013 How Do You Educate Kids Before Their Education Begins? Talk (a Lot)

Current research suggests that young kids who hear a lot of words do better in school—and the effects start very early.

2013-11-06 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2013
Bloomberg | December 17, 2013 Can We Disrupt Poverty by Changing How Poor Parents Talk to Their Kids?

Young children who hear fewer words do worse in school. Providence wants to close the gap.

2013-12-17 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2013
NPR | December 29, 2013 Closing The 'Word Gap' Between Rich And Poor

In the early 1990s, a team of researchers decided to follow about 40 volunteer families — some poor, some middle class, some rich — during the first three years of their new children’s lives. Every month, the researchers recorded an hour of sound from the families’ homes. Later in the lab, the team listened back and painstakingly tallied up the total number of words spoken in each household. What they found came to be known as the “word gap.”

2013-12-29 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2013
The ASHA Leader | January 29, 2014 Thirty Million Words

It’s no secret to speech/language and hearing professionals that children’s early language environments are critical to their speech, language, and academic outcomes. Yet millions of children fail to receive the input they need to be ready for school when they start, and they fall only farther behind as school continues.

2014-01-29 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2014
The Economist | February 22, 2014 In the Beginning Was the Word

The more parents talk to their children, the faster those children’s vocabularies grow and the better their intelligence develops.

2014-02-22 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2014
Education Writers Association | March 06, 2014 Early Childhood Education: Why 0 to 5 Are the Crucial Years

When Professor of Surgery Dr. Dana Suskind started the Pediatric Cochlear Implant Program at the University of Chicago seven years ago, she soon realized that although the surgery brought sound to children’s brains, something else brought language into their lives: their “language environment.”

2014-03-06 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2014
The University of Chicago Magazine | February 01, 2014 Words to Live By

Dana Suskind leads an initiative to improve parental communication, a key factor in a child’s success.

2014-02-01 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2014
Georgia Health News | March 24, 2014 Starved for words? Program uses talking to nourish kids’ brains

A chasm exists in language learning. It involves the cumulative total of words that babies and toddlers hear — and even more importantly, the words they don’t hear. It’s called the “30 million word gap.”

2014-03-24 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2014
The New York Times | March 20, 2014 Trying to Close a Knowledge Gap, Word by Word

Dr. Dana Suskind is quoted in this New York Times article aabout the research showing that brain development is buoyed by continuous interaction with parents and caregivers from birth.

2014-03-20 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2014
Crain's Chicago Business | April 01, 2014 PNC Commits $19 Million to Vocabulary Lessons

PNC Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank, has committed $19 million to fund early education programming in Chicago that focuses on building vocabulary.

2014-04-01 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2014
EdSource | April 13, 2014 More non-profits teaching parents to read with children

Getting parents at all income levels excited about reading to their young children has become a growing trend as more research has emerged about the importance of early language development to later success. Reading and talking to children under 5 years old on a daily basis is critical to their vocabulary development, their verbal communication skills and their ability to begin reading on time and at grade level in elementary school, said Dana Suskind, director a University of Chicago research laboratory focused on early language acquisition.

2014-04-13 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2014
Euronews | April 18, 2014 Get them early, the key to educational success

Many experts say that early learning gives children a head start when they go to school. But what kind of learning and how much? In this edition of Learning World, presented by Maha Barada, we take a close look at various different approaches.

2014-04-18 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2014
The Boston Globe | October 11, 2015 Thirty million little words for a lifetime of difference

Q&A featuring Dr. Suskind in the Boston Globe Ideas.

2015-10-11 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2015
Chicago Magazine | September 09, 2015 Q&A: Dana Suskind on the Importance of Talking (More) to Your Child

The surgeon’s Thirty Million Words project—and new book—is a how-to manual for parents to engage with their children from the earliest months.

2015-09-09 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2015
The Washington Post | November 03, 2015 The most powerful thing we could give poor kids is completely free

Several years ago, though, Suskind realized some children who’d received the surgery continued to struggle anyway. She describes in her new book, “Thirty Million Words,” one little girl from a poor family who could still barely speak by the third grade. “When I looked at her lovely face,” Suskind writes, “it was hard to say whether I was seeing the tragedy of deafness or the tragedy of poverty.”

2015-11-03 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2015
University of Chicago News | November 04, 2015 Thirty Million Words research reaches parents through book, programming

Prof. Dana Suskind’s research on how language affects children’s brain development is reaching the very population that can apply it in the real world: parents. Suskind’s book, Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain, reached No. 1 on Amazon’s best-seller list for parenting and family reference, and the Thirty Million Words Initiative, which she founded, is sharing her evidence-based programming with broader audiences through several projects.

2015-11-04 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2015
Freakonomics | November 04, 2015 Does “Early Education” Come Way Too Late?

In our collective zeal to reform schools and close the achievement gap, we may have lost sight of where most learning really happens — at home.

2015-11-04 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2015
Chicago Tribune | September 11, 2015 Giving kids the gift of hearing and the tools to harness its power

Suskind’s book follows her path from surgeon to social scientist, as she launched the Thirty Million Words Initiative, aimed at harnessing parent talk to close the achievement gap for all children — those who are born hearing and those who are not.

2015-09-11 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2015
NPR | September 14, 2015 The Surgeon Who Became An Activist For Baby Talk

In Suskind’s new book, Thirty Million Words: Building A Child’s Brain, she explains her personal journey toward the surprising answer: The kids who thrived generally lived in households where they heard lots of words. Millions and millions of words.

2015-09-14 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2015
The Washington Post | September 30, 2015 Why Parents Should Talk A Lot to Their Young Kids — And Choose Their Words Carefully

An article from Dr. Suskind adapted from her book Thirty Million Words: Building A Child’s Brain.

2015-09-30 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2015
USA Today | October 18, 2015 'Three T's' uses words to feed toddlers' brains

That’s the mantra of the Thirty Million Words initiative, an experimental effort to build young brains with words. The program gets its name from a study published in the 1990s that found children in low-income homes heard 30 million fewer words by age 3 than children in high income homes. They also heard a smaller variety of words and fewer words of encouragement. And those differences in language exposure had an apparent effect: Children from word-poor homes ended up with smaller vocabularies and worse school performance.

2015-10-18 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2015
Contemporary Pediatrics | September 18, 2017 Talk the talk: Early language exposure impacts brain development

Dana Suskind discusses how she came to move from pediatric cochlear implant surgery to launching a translational research program to promote healthy brain development and explains the science behind the TMW Initiative.

2017-09-18 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2017
Reuters | September 20, 2017 Babies learn what words mean before they can use them

Dr. Dana Suskind from the University of Chicago, who has studied ways to help parents enrich infant language development but who wasn’t involved in this research, told Reuters Health by email, “From my standpoint, this work continues to reaffirm the critical importance of early and intentional parent language and interaction from day one and that learning doesn’t start on the first day of school but the first day of life!”

2017-09-20 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2017
The Press & Sun-Bulletin | April 18, 2018 Your Turn: Build babies’ brainpower by reading to them

The LLP is launching Talk It Up, a community read of the book “Thirty Million Words: Growing a Child’s Brain” by Dana Suskind. This initiative is designed to engage the community in open dialogue on what it takes to ensure all children in Broome County achieve optimum brain development beginning at birth.

2018-04-18 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2018
Albuquerque Journal | June 04, 2018 Teaching new parents to talk to their babies

Last year, Pensacola’s three major birthing hospitals introduced a campaign centered around a gift to new parents: the Brain Bag. It’s literally a bag full of resources on brain development, based on a University of Chicago research program called Thirty Million Words.

2018-06-04 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2018
Rotary | August 01, 2018 Dana Suskind: Talk to your baby early and often

Last year, Pensacola’s three major birthing hospitals introduced a campaign centered around a gift to new parents: the Brain Bag. It’s literally a bag full of resources on brain development, based on a University of Chicago research program called Thirty Million Words.

2018-08-01 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2018
Big Brains Podcast | January 01, 2019 How Talk Builds Babies’ Brains with Dana Suskind (Ep. 13)

Suskind observed that many of her patients struggled to develop language because their parents didn’t talk to them as much. It was a revelation that began inspired her to found the Thirty Million Words Initiative, which aims to improve educational differences. The program has since led to a best-selling book and most recently, a community partnership that will test these innovative ideas on a national scale.

2019-01-01 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2019
Psychology Today | October 29, 2018 Can Conversations Strengthen Early Brain Development?

“Remediation, starting later when something has already happened, can be less successful,” says Dana Suskind, a professor of surgery at the University of Chicago and founder of the TMW Center for Early Learning and Public Health. “We need a fundamental change in our approach to become much more preventative.”

2018-10-29 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2018
UChicago Medicine The Forefront | January 21, 2019 Gift to TMW Center for Early Learning + Public Health will boost efforts to improve outcomes in children

Ballmer Group, the philanthropic organization founded by Connie and Steve Ballmer, is giving $4.2 million to University of Chicago’s TMW Center for Early Learning + Public Health to fund its work that develops a model for a community-wide approach to promote cognitive and language development in young children.

2019-01-21 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2019
The Atlantic | April 15, 2019 Basing Laws on Nothing Is Easier Than Using Evidence

Partnerships between policy makers and researchers could improve the lives of millions—but they’re harder than you think.

2019-04-15 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2019
Forbes | May 06, 2019 University Of Chicago Professors Dana Suskind And John List Go Beyond The Word Gap

Every parent knows that talking to their kids is important, but University of Chicago professors Dana Suskind and John List have been pioneering a research agenda that encourages parents and community members to increase both the quantity and quality of parent-child interactions for all kids, beginning at birth.

2019-05-06 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2019
Brookings Institution | September 26, 2019 What cutting-edge neuroscience tells us about early childhood development

In the recent Democratic presidential debate, Joe Biden was asked about our nation’s history of slavery and pervasive inequality in its schools. He gave a meandering response that received a lot of attention—and criticism.

2019-09-26 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2019
Crain's Chicago Business | October 24, 2019 'In so many homes, not a single book'

A literacy crisis plagues Chicago’s underprivileged communities and handicaps our educational system.

2019-10-24 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2019
PNC | November 07, 2019 PNC Foundation Joins the TMW Center at University of Chicago to Launch New "Any Time is 3Ts Time" to Boost Early Learning

A literacy crisis plagues Chicago’s underprivileged communities and handicaps our educational system.

2019-11-07 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2019
The Regulatory Review | November 18, 2019 How Can Experiments Play a Greater Role in Public Policy?

In recent years, citizens and lawmakers have become increasingly enthusiastic about the adoption of evidence-based policies and programs. Social scientists—aided in part by an increased use of field experiments—have delivered evidence of countless interventions that positively impact peoples’ lives. And yet these programs, when expanded, have not always delivered the dramatic societal impacts promised.

2019-11-18 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2019
Journal Sentinel | December 06, 2019 Borsuk: Early brain development is crucial to a child's future. What will it take to close the prekindergarten gap?

Dana Suskind is a surgeon at the University of Chicago whose specialty is providing kids who have little or no hearing with high-tech cochlear implants that allow them to hear much better. But she noticed about a decade ago that some of her young patients had much better outcomes than others after receiving the implants.

2019-12-06 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2019
The Philadelphia Tribune | January 07, 2020 New program empowers parents to boost early learning

Preliminary results from a five-year study, supported through a $3 million grant by the PNC Foundation and conducted by the TMW Center, reveal that parents improved their toddler’s language environments by increasing conversational turns almost four times more than parents in the control group. These findings are particularly meaningful because they mirror new and emerging research that points to the importance of conversational turn-taking in building a child’s language and cognitive skills.

2020-01-07 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2020
Brookings Institution | December 18, 2019 Education may be pivotal in the 2020 election. Here’s what you need to know.

Whether it’s the ongoing debate over free college, the unique politics surrounding charter schools, or the power of teacher strikes, education promises to play a vital role in determining the outcome of the Democratic primaries and the 2020 general election. To help readers understand these often-complex topics, we’ve collected relevant Chalkboard posts from the past year that discuss the big ideas in education that are likely to be prominent next year.

2019-12-18 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2019
Freakonomics | February 12, 2020 Policymaking Is Not a Science (Yet)

Why do so many promising solutions — in education, medicine, criminal justice, etc. — fail to scale up into great policy? And can a new breed of “implementation scientists” crack the code?

2020-02-12 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2020
The Hechinger Report | February 20, 2020 Parenting apps aren’t just about the kids anymore

New generation of parenting apps aim to support caregivers, build capacity

2020-02-20 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2020
Chicago Tribune | April 30, 2020 Commentary: Universal child care was provided during World War II. We need it again during this pandemic — and beyond.

Historically, times of crisis have brought out the best in U.S. policymaking. The Great Depression ushered in the New Deal. The Cuyahoga River burning due to industrial pollution in 1969 gave us the Environmental Protection Agency. What might the coronavirus-fueled public health and economic emergencies lead to? If we follow another example from history, the answer just might be universal child care.

2020-04-30 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2020
OneZero | July 07, 2020 Baby Headcams Reveal the World That Infants Actually See

The video footage is a gold mine for developmental psychologists

2020-07-07 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2020
Becker Friedman Institute for Economics | August 13, 2020 Episode 18: The COVID Slide: Impact on Childhood

You’ve likely heard of the summer slide in childhood learning. Will changes to education and toxic stress due to COVID-19 result in similar losses, especially for already disadvantaged children? John List and Dana Suskind share what evidence shows about the new risks facing families; then, Ariel Kalil discusses her research on interventions to support parents’ role in learning at home.

2020-08-13 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2020
Brookings Institution | August 20, 2020 The power of dads in childhood development–during a pandemic and beyond

Writing for the Brookings Institution, Dana Suskind discusses the incredibly important role fathers play in building their children’s brains. She summarizes the science that reveals what fathers can and should do to increase brain activation and ultimately contribute to children’s stronger skill formation.

2020-08-20 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2020
Crain's Chicago Business | August 27, 2020 Investing in early childhood education has to become a priority

In this Q&A, John List, a pioneer in the use of field experiments in behavioral economics and a professor at the University of Chicago, discusses the pandemic’s effect on children and the achievement gap.

2020-08-27 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2020
The Hechinger Report | October 16, 2020 Opinion: The invisible toll of mass incarceration on childhood development

Parental incarceration exposes children to ‘toxic stress’ and causes them to miss out on nurturing relationships, potentially disrupting brain development and contributing to poor educational outcomes

2020-10-16 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2020
Chicago Tribune | December 01, 2020 Commentary: We are failing our children by keeping them out of the classroom

Op-ed in the Chicago Tribune by TMW Center’s Katie Dealy.

2020-12-01 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2020
The Hechinger Report | January 11, 2021 Opinion: How the gig economy puts children’s development at risk and what we can do about it

Unpredictable schedules and pay and limited access to benefits like health care and parental leave can threaten the ability of workers’ children to learn

2021-01-11 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2021
Arizona Republic | March 14, 2021 How these fathers learned to talk more with their kids and bump up their 'dad game'

Dads typically don’t talk in depth about parenting like moms do, said Meghan Storms, senior program manager at Southwest Human Development, which runs the program locally. Dads play a critical role in their children’s lives.

2021-03-14 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2021
University of Chicago News | June 28, 2021 The risk and rewards of scaling studies into policies

A panel from the University of Chicago and Brookings Institution explored what goes wrong — and what can go right — when researchers and policymakers undertake the science of scaling

2021-06-28 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2021
New America | July 08, 2021 Q&A with Dana Suskind and John List on Why Some Early Childhood Interventions Lose Impact at Scale

Early childhood interventions have a strong evidence base proving profoundly positive and lifelong benefits. But moving from a successful pilot to a state-level program requires careful design in order to achieve the same positive results at scale. In this Q&A, Dana Suskind and John List discuss the science of scaling.

2021-07-08 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2021
ABC 36 News Kentucky | August 17, 2021 Early-learning education program pilot aims to give children a head start

A pilot program promoting early childhood education is test driving its techniques in Kentucky. Families and children from five Kentucky counties are getting an early start on education with a 10-week program called 3-T’s Let’s Talk. The program was developed by the TMW Center for Early Learning and Public Health at the University of Chicago, and funded by a grant from PNC Grow Up Great.

2021-08-17 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2021
Freakonomics | September 15, 2021 Why Does the Richest Country in the World Have So Many Poor Kids?

Among O.E.C.D. nations, the U.S. has one of the highest rates of child poverty. How can that be? To find out, Stephen Dubner speaks with a Republican senator, a Democratic mayor, and a large cast of econo-nerds. Along the way, we hear some surprisingly good news: Washington is finally ready to attack the problem head-on.

2021-09-15 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2021
Chicago Tribune | October 08, 2021 Op-ed: What parents know matters, what society does matters more

A rich body of scientific literature demonstrates that the first three years of a child’s life builds the foundation for lifelong learning and achievement — and that a warm, nurturing relationship with caretakers is the most important building block in that foundation. But little research has been done to quantify parents’ awareness or understanding of that science.

2021-10-08 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2021
Milken Institute | October 06, 2021 By Supporting Parents, We Boost Child Development

Among the many harsh realities revealed by COVID-19 is the overwhelming share of parents in the United States who lack access to the support they need, particularly during the critically important early years of their children’s lives. Indeed, many have to shoulder the enormous responsibility of early childhood care, development, and education on their own, without knowledgeable support or guidance.

2021-10-06 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2021
Psychology Today | October 14, 2021 Changing Parenting Beliefs Improves Early Childhood Outcomes

Parents who learn about current science nurture children well.

2021-10-14 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2021
Midtown Magazine | October 15, 2021 Intentional Interactions: How one-on-one communication enriches your child’s brain

If you see adults across the Triangle talking casually to babies as if they might somehow answer, there is no need for concern. These adults are probably just aware of current research about the importance of communicating with young children.

2021-10-15 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2021
The Conversation | January 04, 2022 How changing parental beliefs can build stronger vocabulary and math skills for young children

The key to improving young children’s vocabulary and math skills may lie in changing their parents’ beliefs. We describe these findings in an article published in October 2021 in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature Communications.

2022-01-04 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2022
Vox EU / CEPR | December 12, 2021 Addressing the roots of educational inequities by shifting parental beliefs

This column reports the results of two TMW Center field experiments that reveal how shifting parents’ beliefs about the role of parental inputs in child development can impact parents’ behavior and be a pathway to reducing gaps in children’s skills.

2021-12-12 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2021
The Hill | January 07, 2022 Parents have the power to become America's strongest special interest group

Writing in The Hill, Dana Suskind argues that parents have the potential to be the largest special interest group in the country, writing: “The time is ripe for parents to galvanize — to advocate for systemic supports that would finally, truly, make parental choice a reality.”

2022-01-07 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2022
Publishers Weekly | February 01, 2022 Parent Nation: Unlocking Every Child’s Potential, Fulfilling Society’s Promise

In a review of Dana Suskind’s new book, Publisher’s Weekly notes that its “stories of parents driven to the brink by a broken system make policy issues feel powerfully personal.” And calls the book “an incisive and persuasive call to action.”

2022-02-01 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2022
Emily Oster's ParentData | April 18, 2022 How Society Fails Parents

Emily Oster interviews Dana Suskind on her latest book, Parent Nation.

2022-04-18 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2022
NPR | May 17, 2022 The case for revolutionizing child care in America

This Planet Money feature on Dana Suskind’s new book, Parent Nation, explains that “millions of kids in America are getting left behind during their first three years of life — years that a heap of scientific evidence says are crucial to their brain development.” And “To fix that, (Suskind) argues, America needs much stronger policies to support parents and caregivers at this early stage.”

2022-05-17 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2022
Scientific American | June 01, 2022 U.S. Kids Are Falling behind Global Competition, but Brain Science Shows How to Catch Up

Writing for Scientific American, Dana Suskind and Lydia Denworth explore how family-friendly policies such as paid parental leave and high-quality child care improve children’s brain development and prospects for a better future.

2022-06-01 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2022
USA Today | June 09, 2022 Pandemic babies are behind after years of stress, isolation affected brain development

Dana Suskind is quoted in this USA Today article examining the challenges facing kids born in the COVID-19 era. Suskind argues their parents need more support.

2022-06-09 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2022
The Atlantic | September 28, 2022 American Family Policy is Holding Schools Back

The Atlantic quotes Dana Suskind in this article examining our nation’s education system. Suskind argues parents need more support to foster their children’s academic success.

2022-09-28 00:00:00 +0000 all year-2022