Psyc 400, Spring, 2015
Title of Paper: Factors Contributing to Literacy Skills in Children from Low-Income Families
In American society, education is considered by many to be an equalizing force for people from all walks of life. It allows the nation’s best and brightest to distinguish themselves from their peers through intellectual merit - at least in theory. Unfortunately, the reality of the situation does not live up to the ideal, especially for children from low income families. Children who are already growing up with the disadvantages of poverty are further hindered by underfunded and ineffectual primary schooling, setting them even further behind middle and upper ...view middle of the document...
A national assessment of reading skills in fourth grade conducted by Donahue et al (2001) children further solidifies the link between poverty. According to the results of the study, sixty percent of children who qualify for reduced-price or free lunches score below the basic level of reading proficiency. There were also ethnic discrepancies in reading ability which closely followed socioeconomic trends – Black and Latino children exhibited the lowest reading scores of any ethnic group, with sixty three percent of Black children and fifty nine percent of Latino children scoring below the basic reading level.
Fortunately, the body of psychological research into the issue suggests that there are things that the parents can do to protect their children from the negative impact of poverty on their children’s intellectual and academic performance. One of the key strategies is to foster early literacy through guided reading or story-telling, according to studies by both Nicolopolou et al (2015) and Bernhard et al (2008). This strategy allows the reading skills of the child to develop outside of class and helps offset the disadvantages they face both in their home environment and at school.
This paper will attempt to holistically review the strategies and lifestyle factors that can contribute to the development of reading skills. Reading skills are extremely important for academic performance, but it is also necessary to understand that reading comprehension is a critically important skill even outside of the classroom. This paper will show that a number of strategies can significantly contribute to a low-income child’s literacy skills. This has implications for their academic achievement, future career path, and emotional resilience. What’s more, evidence showing the capability of low-income children to significantly improve their reading ability poses a strong philosophical rebuttal to the notion that they are doomed to failure.
A review of prior research yields a wealth of information pointing to the protective effect of early literacy. A study by Crone et al (1999) seems to suggest that the earlier literacy skills are established and encouraged, the stronger their positive effects on future academic achievement will be. This underscores not only the importance of effective education in school, but also the critical role that parents play in guiding the development of their child’s cognitive skillset at an early age. A holistic view integrating both the child’s school and home environment is needed to accurately assess the factors determining a child’s future academic and intrapersonal growth.
One of the most important factors contributing to the development of early reading skills is the mother-child bond. According to a study by Sparks et al (2013), there is a significant correlation between a mother reading to her child and improved literacy skills for the child. Another interesting finding from the same study was that mothers who told...