Over the years, I have volunteered regularly in public schools. A number of years ago, I remember one favorite teacher and her third graders. Many of her students were either non-readers or were reading way below grade level. I worked with two of her lowest students weekly. Both were motivated and very aware of how far behind they were in reading. One student had been suspended for fighting already. Both of these kids would not have been in this situation if they had had early reading enrichment experiences as preschoolers.
Sadly the research supports that children who are not reading on level by third grade generally do not even graduate high school. There is just too much “catch up” time. They cannot keep up with the academic rigors as they progress. What happens to these kids? Many go to prison, become pregnant as teenagers, or at best are unemployed.
When I look for data to support early enrichment I turn to the work of Dr. James Heckman – winner of the Noble Prize in economics in 2000 and professor of economics at University of Chicago. He is known for his paper, “Schools, Skills and Synapses”, which concluded that public investments in children 5 years and younger yield the greatest return.
So how do children that are early readers make the world a better place? They are better prepared for the Common Core State Standards adopted by 45 States. Review of the Standards shows clearly that early readers are prepared better to handle these academic rigors because:
- they are able to take in more information quickly
- they have more vocabulary
- they love to read and are strong readers
These skills prepare them well to take tests which are how their knowledge is measured in today’s schools. Data supports what I have come to believe through my experiences as an educator and parent: children who are successful in school go on to be successful in life! We can make the world a better place by putting more emphasis in early reading!
What are the skills you see that help kids to be successful in school?