By: Vanessa D’Elia
I feel that the effect of socioeconomic status on learning and academics is a very important issue that should concern us as future educators. More than 30 million children are growing up in poverty and in 2011, nearly 46.2 million Americans were living in poverty. But how does poverty affects education?
- Children living in poverty have higher absenteeism or leave school all together because they are more likely to have to work or care for family members
- Students from poverty enter school behind and with a much lower quality and quantity of vocabulary than students from professional homes
- Students from poverty are more likely to have health issues due to lack of exercise and lack of appropriate medical attention. Health issues can affect attention, reasoning, learning and memory
- Children who grow up in poor families are exposed to food with lower nutritional value or sometimes meals are skipped all together. It is very hard to concentrate or succeed academically when you are hungry
What can we do as educators to help our children?
The first thing we need to do is learn about students backgrounds. Get to know them by calling home, email students’ families, perform teacher-parent conference or just by talking to students. Have higher expectations and don’t just give up on them because of their background. Assist the student to meet those expectations by focusing on their strengths. Keep praising them and remember that for one negative comment you should give seven positive ones. And of course always have resources available not just for the students but for the families as well. Just something so simple like helping them fill out a reduced/free lunch form can make a big difference in their lives.
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