Another year has passed helping second graders cope with their lack of reading skills. I look back over six years of getting to know these great kids, these smart kids… and wonder why. Why does each new group of seven year olds seem to have less reading skills than last year’s group?
No… believe me, in most cases it has nothing to do with second language problems. It’s simply these kids come to school unprepared for school. No basic knowledge of words, stories, language skills. As my grandma would say, “They got no fetchin’up.”
So what do we do? I have often suggested that if kids have mandatory school attendance in order to receive a “free” education, then in order to help teachers and taxpayers get the job done correctly, we need mandatory “parent school.”
I was never sure how to pull that off; I just knew this idea would help.
Now I find out that other places, least expected places, have tried this option and got tremendous results.
In this case the school visited the parents.
Amazingly that was back in 1986 and the kids and families have been studied for twenty years.
The results are in and it’s fantastic!
They divided 129 toddlers into three groups in 1986, 43 in each group.
Group #1 received a weekly hour-long visit from a trained researcher. During the hour the trainer encouraged the parents to play and have fun with their kids. The play hour consisted of reading picture books, singing songs and playing peek-a-boo.
Group #2 received one kilogram of a milk-based nutritional supplement for the week.
This program lasted for two years.
These children were then studied and followed for the next twenty years.
As you can imagine, the group receiving the counseling teaching them to play and learn with the kids did better throughout childhood. Higher scores in IQ, less aggressive behavior and better self-control.
Today they are adults.
They earn 25% more income than the other two groups of the study.
There are similar programs that have started with research teams at University of Oregon and University of Delaware.
What they are finding are cognitive skills improvement that can’t be measured by standardized school testing.
Skills like negotiating life effectively inside and outside of school by:
Being able to understand and follow directions
Focus on a single activity for an extended period of time (YEP…you better read that one again)
To interact calmly with other students
Cope with disappointment
Persevere through frustration
WOW! WOW! WOW!
We know that life can be chaotic for parents in unstable, poverty-driven situations. And it quickly oozes down and suffocates their children. They need help, and not just financial help. I know, you know, these parents want a warm, caring, stable household for their kids. They don’t know how to create it.
When we more fortunate folks help them create a nurturing environment at home, their children’s stress levels go down and their emotional stability and psychological resilience improves.
Let’s do this.
We need a team.
We need a plan.
We certainly have the needy parents and kids.