Today’s post is prompted by an article sent by my boss from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH): Improving mothers’ literacy skills may be best way to boost children’s achievement
Now I *read* – like obsessively. I’ve been accused of being a book/reading addict. I’m the kind of person who has to have something to read for the few minutes I am on the toilet.
I read while WST was in the womb, I read while I was in labor (good drugs), I read in recovery, and I read during those first few crazy months after she was born. (Me healing from a cesarean, her not sleeping, neither of us very good at the breastfeeding thing, etc.) I figured out how to read while pumping, while she napped/slept on me, and even now, while she attempts to play with and around me.
I read to her when she was days old, and every single day she has been alive – except when I have been away, in which case her dads read to her. Books are her friends, she hugs them, is excited when she gets a new one, cries when we have to give library books back, and begs for more at bedtime reading (although this may have ulterior motivations).
CLEARLY I have had an impact on her preparation for schooling. At 3 she is conversing like a 4 or 5 year old, solving and examining problems far beyond typical for her age, can name most of the alphabet, and can recite the spelling of ther name (and recognize it in print). Now given, we rolled high on the genetic dice for brains. But also obviously, environment is important.
[Visualize soap box here.]
K-12 schools fail some folks. One-size-fits-all systems will always fail in a society of unique individuals. Instead of pouring more and more $ into these flawed systems, perhaps we should PLAN on that % of failure and set aside funds to TEACH ADULTS WHO NEED IT.
Breaking the cycle of low literacy is ciritcal to improving the cycle of poverty. Moms who read are less likely to get pregnant again, more likely to give their kids proper pre-natal care, infant and child nutrition, cognitive stimulus, and discipline. They are also more employable and likely to be employed. And, as this study shows, their kids will do better in school, be more employable, and ALSO raise kids who are too.
[Patent “bleeding heart cause” plug]
You can help.
See if you can do any one of the following in the next year (and the year after that, etc.):
- Speak out about literacy issues in general.
- Donate time or money to your local adult literacy program.
- Volunteer to teach or tutor someone who is learning to read (or do math, or learn computer skills).
- Vote for candiates who support LIFELONG learning initiatives.
- Volunteer to read to kids at any local daycare or school.
- Support any “books for families/kids” program you can. [Imagination Library as an example]
- Donate books to daycares or schools, community centers, battered women’s shelters, etc.
- Read to YOUR kids, and encourage them to read to anyone who will it still long enough.
I admit, I work in the field of Adult Literacy for a living. But really, all my bias aside, is this not everyone’s issue?