Monday, February 13, 2012

Effect of Family Income on Learning in Early Childhood

Hi Everyone,
Well, if you told me two years ago I would be blog posting on the topic of Socio-Economic Status in relation to Early Childhood education to Kindergarten teachers the world over, I would have said you were crazy! But well, here I am and so here goes:

First off, I have to say one of the very best things I love about #Kinderchat is the opportunity for mixture between the educational community: teachers, consultants, government agencies, writers, specialists, speakers. Pots of rich and poor, religious and not religious, US, Canadian, SAmerican; all those working with children the world over mix and mingle to get glimpses of what its like to walk in another classroom.

Being in the moment of this post it all feels so big and so important, and yet so extremely humbling when you think of how much love, effort, knowledge, patience, care, tears, laughter and fun goes into the life and work of an Early Childhood educator each and every day. Truly, these are some of the world's most talented teachers and can never be hailed enough IMHO.

So here is this mixing pot of little miracles that happens each day in classrooms around the world, this culture of Kindergarten filled with snowflakes and decomposing food buckets, 100 days of school celebrations, stories and shapes and play and fighting and reading and writing and the teachers who balance it all.

Some of our students come into Kindergarten reading on a 3rd grade level, some come to us not knowing the alphabet. Some come to us fresh from their summer house on the beach, others come homeless and hungry.

The current idea among US policymakers is that this teacher - this mix master of reading, play mathematics, sparkly shiny things, social studies, frustration, joy and science- can, on a grand scale and if done with perfect precision, vault those pocked with poverty out from under the burden of not knowing where the next just jelly sandwich will come from and into six figure beachfront property.

Can buckets of strong Kindergarten teachers pull Haitian children up to the levels of those on the Upper East Side of Manhattan?

Phew! If this is the new lot in our lives, we are going to need some help! Are teachers who are expected to pull children out of poverty enjoying small 1:7? 1:10? 1:15? teacher to student ratios? Computers and art? Music, a foreign language, ample recesses and playtime in the classroom? Extra planning time with colleagues and support staff during the rich curricular day of the low income school?

As strong a teacher I feel I am, I'm not sure where to begin to pull homeless Charlotte up to the level of beachfront summer house Charlotte and with 1/8 of the tools, 1/4 the support and 3xs the tiredness, all while being micro measured on my performance to insure precision.

Beachfront Charlotte may not know her alphabet, but she has a warm bed, healthcare and a predictable meal schedule. That alone is enough to make a large difference in a small child's life. It's horribly wrong so many young children die each year from lack of those three small, yet incredibly monumental factors.

No matter which group of young children you work with or for, we are really looking forward to hearing everyone's voice on this topic tonight. We encourage everyone to continue to add their resources to our resources wiki as we continue to work together in tandem for the children entrusted to us each day!


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