Ron Ferguson, an economist at Harvard, has made a career out of studying the achievement gap — the well-documented learning gap that exists between kids of different races and socioeconomic statuses.
But even he was surprised to discover that gap visible with "stark differences" by just age 2, meaning "kids aren't halfway to kindergarten and they're already well behind their peers."
And yet, there's a whole body of research on how caregivers can encourage brain development before a child starts any formal learning. It's another example, Ferguson says, of the disconnect between research and practice. So he set out to translate the research into five simple and free ways adults can help their little ones.
"Things that we need to do with infants and toddlers are not things that cost a lot of money," he explains. "It's really about interacting with them, being responsive to them."
He calls his list the Boston Basics, and he's on a mission to introduce it to caretakers first in Boston and then across the country.