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How disadvantaged are kids who are never read to?
I don’t even know where to begin. After teaching school in the same severely underprivileged neighborhood for over 20 years, I have come to the conclusion that children not being read to the first 5 years of life, suffered lifelong (yes, lifelong) developmental and educational consequences. It doesn’t mean they’ll never succeed. It means is that they’ll most likely have a more difficult time getting there.
As the special education teacher in the school, I found that the children who arrived to school never being read to were so far behind that the regular teacher would refer them for testing for a special needs class. They didn’t even have a fighting chance to prove they could learn at a normal pace.
There are many articles and much research on this topic which can be looked up by anyone. I want to give you examples of what I saw when a child wasn’t being read to at all their first 5 years of life. These children did not have even one book in their household.
Five percent of the children in the school I taught began public school preschool by not knowing if they were a girl or a boy. It is hard to ignore that this would often go along with neglect, but if someone is reading to them, then that’s an area where they’re not being neglected.
Because of lack of proper verbal stimulation such as hearing words woven from individual syllables, into paragraphs, and therefore forming a story spoken in a normal tone of voice, most children were unable to focus for an appropriate amount of time according to their age on activities such as being read to, coloring, and following simple directions.
The children that had never been read to seemed more confused and seemed to lack confidence around the other children. They had a hard time adjusting and getting used to organized activities. This led to many many discipline problems which they themselves did not understand. This added a lot of stress to their day, and prevented them from enjoying the healthy school environment we were trying to provide.
There’s so much more I could literally go on for days, but let’s talk about bonding. Children that had never been read to, and never been held close and engaged in an intimate activity such as being read to, had a harder time understanding other children and the role they were supposed to play as far as positive interaction.
I even suggest to pregnant women that they begin reading to their children while their baby is developing in the womb. The are many proven research results that indicate a higher intelligence score between children that have been read to and those that hadn’t been.
One other thing I observed is that proper nutrition, with all nutritional guidelines provided to the child, was vital to the child’s body and brain development to work in tandem properly with the reading experience to give each child the proper start in life.
Rebecca Baldwin has been a special needs educator for over 20 years. You can read more from Quora below:
- Is it true that babies while still in womb listen to the speech of people around them and develop an “accent” of their cry?