According to the National Center for Literacy, children from lower income families will have, by the time they turn four, heard 32 million fewer words than children who were born into professional families. I don’t know how they arrived at that statistic, whether they followed these children around with a calculator, but the finding is pretty significant, regardless of how it was obtained.
Another statistic from the same source says that one in five children under the age of five here in America lives in poverty. This lessens their access to proper education, books of their own, transportation to libraries, and trips to the bookstore.
The family is the single biggest indication of a child’s future success. When the parents are supportive, the child feels empowered. When parents stress the importance of literacy and can provide ready access to it, the child’s chances of developing good reading habits improves dramatically.
Research suggests that when the adults in the home enroll in literacy programs, the effects reach far into the home. Parents keep their jobs and achieve GED equivalency, and the quantity of literacy activity in the home goes up by sometimes 80%. When the children participate in the programs with their parents, they are rated higher for academic performance. Their desire to learn is greater and their likelihood of future success skyrockets. When parents and children increase their literacy together, they learn that it can be fun, and it can provide bonding as well.
The National Center also mentions that there are many family literacy programs that you and your children can tap into. You can take advantage of the summer reading programs at the library – most larger libraries have both youth and adult reading tutors.
I’ve spoken many times about the importance of parental involvement in the literacy of their children, and you know what, I’m going to keep it up because it’s so important. The National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) has conducted research which shows that children whose parents are functionally illiterate are two times more likely to be functionally illiterate themselves. That means they won’t be able to read a bus schedule or fill out a job application. Right now, 30 million adults are living with this educational handicap. That statistic is so staggering, the NAEP says that if we had one teacher working to teach 100 adults how to read, we would need 300,000 teachers to fill the need.
You are reading this blog, and so you obviously have good reading skills. However, you have friends who do not. You may toss that aside, thinking, “All my friends can read,” but I’m willing to wager that somewhere in your string of acquaintances is a person who is just barely squeaking by, who is faking it. How will their children find the tools they need to succeed? Talk to your friend. Hook them up with a reading tutor. Let’s turn the tide.