Poverty Can Jeopardize Literacy
Early childhood brain development takes place across a wide range of social, emotional and cognitive dimensions. One key area of development occurs in terms of language and literacy. Language and literacy encompasses a child’s ability to express their wants and needs, understand a growing vocabulary, and establishes the foundation for developing comfort with reading. Early reading practices can be established very early in life. Early reading gives a child a leg up on academic success.
Unfortunately, not all children have high quality early childhood literacy experiences. Researchers have found that while there are more than a dozen books per child in middle-income neighborhoods, in low-income neighborhoods the ratio is closer to one book for every three hundred children. Research further found that low-income families engage in much less conversation and use smaller vocabularies when talking with their children. The result is that there are stark differences in the early exposure to reading of different groups of children. In low-income families, time as well as money are scarce, and books may be considered a costly luxury. Children from low-income families are further disadvantaged when it comes to early exposure to reading. By the time children from low-income families enter kindergarten, they are 12-14 months below national norms in language and pre-reading skills.
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