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Roundup: Baby Talk at the Doc; Kindergarten Readiness Survey

Last week, New York University pediatrics professor Alan Mendelsohn made news with his program for helping low-income mothers learn to talk to their babies the way more affluent mothers do. A group of mothers and babies who came to Bellevue Hospital for doctor visits were videotaped interacting with their children in the waiting area, then spent 45 minutes with a child development specialist reviewing the videos and being coached on how to increase their interaction and vocabulary development in play. As reported in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, mothers with a 9th-grade education or higher showed the greatest increase in interaction with their children through the video coaching.

A key point NPR missed about this study is that the intervention occurred at the doctor's office on regular visits. Knowing how much time I've already spent waiting at the doctor's with my toddler son, I agree with Mendelsohn that the doctor's office is a prime location for promoting mother-child interaction and language development, because there's not much else to do while you wait!

Separately, the Associated Press on Jan. 9 reported that seven districts in southeast Mississippi will be among the first to administer UCLA's national pilot of an early-development survey assessing kindergarten readiness. The UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities is working with United Way to recruit communities to take the survey and use its results to develop strong early-childhood policies and programs. Kindergarten teachers will answer 104-question surveys on the health, academic and social skills of each of their students. (Wow.)

"It's about how we as a community are doing to help our families prepare their children for school," said Dan Kibodeaux, executive director of the United Way of Southeastern Mississippi.

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