Pick your troubling statistic.
Children from low-income homes hear as many as 30 million fewer words than their more affluent peers.
Sixty-one percent of children from low-income backgrounds have no children’s books at home.
By age two, poor children are already behind their peers in listening, counting and other skills essential to literacy.
As early as age three, a child’s vocabulary can predict third-grade reading achievement.
By age five, a typical middle-class child recognizes 22 letters of the alphabet, compared to 9 for a child from a low-income family.
They all point to the same pressing need to do more to ensure that young children – especially children from low-income backgrounds – are ready for school, for reading at grade level by the end of third grade and for a lot more of life to come. Just as there’s an achievement gap in school performance that separates disadvantaged children from more affluent peers, there’s also a school readiness gap. As early as 18 months, low-income children begin to fall behind in vocabulary development and other skills critical for school success.
Research shows that learning begins long before a child enters kindergarten. Children, even infants, soak up words, rhymes, songs and images. Vocabulary development is particularly important. A child’s health, and the timely recognition of developmental delays, is another critical aspect of school readiness. Parents, daycare providers, pediatricians, preschool programs and the broader community play an enormous role in closing this gap and reversing many a troubling statistic.
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