The Hechinger Report, Letters to the Editor
Covering Innovation & Inequality in Education
Published in The Hechinger Report, May 26, 2020
Tammy Steele says:
May 27, 2020
Many times parents aren’t aware of the educational value of activities they already do with their children. By adding more complex language and math talk to play experiences, parents provide the perfect match of motivation (your child chose the play), with parent-teacher ratio (1 to 1). Sometimes both teachers and parents try activities that are developmentally inappropriate for a child (too much too soon). There are good websites for parents co-teaching: , , are aimed at parents of children ages 6 and under. Hechinger editors might help parents by vetting these websites and others.
Tammy Steele: Talking a Child to Success
Kay Whitfield, July 8, 2018
by Judy Carmack Bross
On the cover of her new book, The Gift of Words: How do Children Learn to Talk?, Chicago educator Tammy Steele declares, “Words bring success, words make winners.”
Read on—the beautiful guidebook for parents and children, illustrated by Tammy herself, shows how early vocabulary building spells success in school, at work and in life. Using language acquisition research published in 1995, Tammy tells parents it’s never too young to start the conversation.
Growing up in Little Rock in a family of six children, Tammy always felt her mother was fascinated by what she and her siblings were trying to say, allowing her to develop the canny ability to spark conversations with enthusiasm, wisdom, and what-ifs—making her one of our city’s education cheerleaders.
“Parents can give a child the gift of words starting at birth. It doesn’t take more time—it takes more words. Recent brain research shows that infants’ brains have cells ready to learn language. They need to hear and say millions of words before they are three years old. Not different words, just words parents already say to them each day.”