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Complex conversation helps intellectual development { February 7 2008 }

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The Family Dinner Deconstructed
by Alix Spiegel

Morning Edition, February 7, 2008
David Dickinson, a professor of education at Vanderbilt University, Interim Chair of Peabody College's Department of Teaching and Learning



Prof. DICKINSON: What we found was that our data on the quality of conversations in mealtimes was a much stronger predictor of how later development would go for children's language and literacy development.

SPIEGEL: ...Turned out the content of dinner is important. That is, the kids who did well didn't just eat dinner with families; they ate dinner with families that maintained complex conversation, rich with explanation, story telling, and more.

Prof. DICKINSON: When a new word was used - like, suppose reptile - and the parent who would stop and say, oh, you know, like a snake, or say something that would give the child a little definition of what that word meant, those kinds of interactions were really powerful.

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