“Poorer children start falling behind the richer children in their age cohort long before they toddle off to their first day of school or sit down for their first standardized test. Before formal instruction begins, children learn from their parents. Poorer children fall into a ‘word gap’—they hear and say fewer things per day than more well-off children. Words are just one more resource that, Piketty-style, accrues fastest to those who already have most.
Parents are meant to take on the role of Adam, but most homes aren’t Edenically diverse. Alone in a house, there are only so many things to name and elicit the color, shape, and number that describe them. If parents hit a breaking point when asked to read Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie ad nauseum, how much more exhausting can it be to endlessly iterate the objects in the house, without so much as a plot or a rhyme scheme to hold them together?
But once parent and child venture out in search of stimulation, they’re likely to encounter new obstacles. Our cities have been redesigned, incorporating anti-homeless urban design to discourage loitering and leisure. On a walk through the streets around their homes, parents will find blank spaces where there used to be benches and flat areas studded with spikes to prevent anyone from taking a seat and spoiling the neat aesthetic of the neighborhood.”