Children from low-income families tend to fall behind their more affluent peers in every stage of life. They are less likely to be prepared to enter school at age 5, achieve academic and social competencies by the end of elementary schools graduate from high school with good grades, no crime involvement, or teen pregnancy, or achievement equivalent income in their twenties.[i]Â
This summer, LifeBound is working to equalize summer learning opportunities for students by assisting communities, organizations, school districts, and individuals in creating a summer learning solution that fits their students’ needs. Early and consistent intervention is key to student success.
Reading comprehension involves two competencies, as the framework below depicts by the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory. The red leg represents language comprehension, which is described as â€œthe ability to construct meaning from spoken representations of language.â€ The blue leg represents decoding, which is described as â€œthe ability to recognize written representations of words.â€ Poor reading comprehension is caused by a weakness in language comprehension or decoding abilities. Together, and only together, do these competencies lead to reading achievement.[i]Â (Click on the image below to explore the interactive framework.)
Look at all the cognitive elements in the reading comprehension framework and it becomes obvious why students who have minimal access to books and spoken language in the home fall behind. An exposure to language is how students learn to form sentences, understand new words and build vocabulary, and comprehend what is being spoken or read. Without a book or someone to share a book with, a child doesnâ€™t get experience deciphering new words, understanding phonemes, and structuring language.
Though putting a book on a bookcase, understanding that a book is read from left to right, or chewing on a book are deceptively simple steps down the road to literacy when compared to the complexity of reading comprehension skills, literacy is rarely achieved in households that donâ€™t have access to literature. In fact, reading aloud is known to be the most important activity that leads to literacy and determines a studentâ€™s reading success through the rest of their life.[ii]
Parent involvement is critical in early childhood development. Before the first school bell rings, 90 percent of brain development has occurred between birth and age 5.[iii] Itâ€™s no wonder why children in poverty, who hear as many as 30 million fewer words than their more affluent peers before the age of 4, are kept at a perpetual academic disadvantage. [iv]
According to the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, their research shows 37 percent of children entering kindergarten are not prepared with the skills they need to learn. Research also shows that an academic setback in kindergarten makes it very difficult for students to ever catch up.[v] The quality of a studentâ€™s early childhood education is strongly correlated with their high school success.
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[i]Sawhill, Isabel V., Scott Winship, and Kerry Searle Grannis. “Pathways to the Middle Class: Balancing Personal and Public Responsibilities.”Â BrookingsÂ (2012): 1-24. 20 Sept. 2012. Web. <http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/research/files/papers/2012/9/20%20pathways%20middle%20class%20sawhill%20winship/0920%20pathways%20middle%20class%20sawhill%20winship.pdf>.
[i] Hoover, Wesley A., and Philip B. Gough. “The Reading Acquisition Framework – An Overview.” Reading Resources. SEDL, n.d. Web. <http://www.sedl.org/reading/framework/overview.html>.
[ii] “Importance of Reading Aloud.” Reach Out and Read. Reach Out and Read, n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2013. <http://www.reachoutandread.org/why-we-work/importance-of-reading-aloud/>.
[iii] “Quality Early Learning Is Foundation for Lifetime Success.” Www.makewayforbooks.org. MAKE WAY FOR BOOKS, n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2013. <http://www.makewayforbooks.org/aboutus/importanceEarlyLiteracy.html>.
[iv] “Importance of Reading Aloud.” Reach Out and Read. Reach Out and Read, n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2013. <http://www.reachoutandread.org/why-we-work/importance-of-reading-aloud/>.
[v] Harris, Shae. “Closing Achievement Gap for Students Begins Before Kindergarten.” Washington Area Womens Foundation Closing Achievement Gap for Students Begins Before Kindergarten Comments. Womensfoundation.org, 5 Dec. 2012. Web. 28 Jan. 2013. <http://thewomensfoundation.org/2012/closing-achievement-gap-students-begins-kindergarten/>.