Where is the Key to Success? The Effects of Poverty on a Child’s Education.Asia Atterberry
Poverty plays a pivotal role in the accessibility and educational performance of children in the United States. Since the beginning of time, one’s access and success were determined by social status. Social status differentiated “The Haves” from the “The Have Nots”, and unfortunately it remains the same today. 1 in 5 children in the United States is living in poverty. CITATION Chi13 l 1033 (Child Fund International, 2013) These children suffer from a lack of resources and parent support at home. They begin school already in an educational deficit in comparison to their wealthier peers. As if that isn’t enough, these children also suffer from a lack of resources at school. Due to the school’s poor testing performance, the government decreases school funding in these areas, making it almost impossible for educators to provide the children with the intervention services that the children are in desperate need of. Most of these children drop out of school, and unfortunately the children who do complete school never attend college due to lack of finances. CITATION Chi13 l 1033 (Child Fund International, 2013)This term paper serves to examine the profound effects that poverty can have on a child’s education and the challenges that these children face.
Where is the Key to Success? The Effects of Poverty on a Child’s Education.For ages children have been told that education is the key to success, but how can a child be successful if they can’t find the key? This is the dilemma that faces children living in poverty. Poverty is defined as the state of one that lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions, but poverty extends beyond a person’s finances. CITATION Mer18 l 1033 (Merriam Webster, Incorporated, 2018) Poverty has a devastating effect on a child’s education. Children living in poverty face an array of challenges that can have a lifelong impact on the child. Some of the challenges these children face is; health and nutrition challenges, emotional and behavioral challenges, lack of resources, and psychological challenges. Poverty is crippling to a child’s educational success. Children living in poverty enter school already significantly behind their wealthier peers. CITATION Lay15 l 1033 (Layton, 2015) A gap which continuously increases as the child ages. “In my travels all over the world I have come to realize that what distinguishes one child from another is not ability, but access. Access to education, access to opportunity, access to love”. CITATION Hil l 1033 (Hill) Every child is capable of academic success if given the opportunity and tools needed for success. Unfortunately, children living in poverty are not afforded the necessary opportunities and tools for this success.
Health and Nutrition Challenges
Nutrition is an important component for a child of any age. Good nutrition provides aid in the prevention of health issues and assist with the growth and development of children both mentally and physically. The parents of children living in poverty often have a hard time providing this vitally important component. Approximately ¾ of children living in poverty live in a single-parent or caregiver home. CITATION Jen13 l 1033 (Jensen, 2013) Therefore, the financial burden is placed solely upon that parent, leaving many of these children malnourished. Malnutrition is caused by a lack of food or an unbalanced diet that is missing and/or is insufficient in one or more nutrients. CITATION Joe17 l 1033 (King, 2017) The effects of malnutrition can cause tremendous difficulties in learning for children.
Effects of Malnutrition
Some effects of malnutrition can include rapid weight loss, weakness, chronic fatigue, etc. Therefore, a child that is suffering from malnutrition is incapable of taking part in any physical activities. Physical activities assist children in learning social skills such as making friends, expressing feelings and opinions, starting and keeping conversations and various other skills. Many skills of which are critical to a child’s success within a school setting. CITATION Ped14 l 1033 (Pedro Gil Madrona, 2014) Malnutrition can also cause deficiencies in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients allowing children living in poverty to become more vulnerable to illnesses and more likely to have an abundance of absences from school. CITATION Emi14 l 1033 (Walthouse, 2014) Children suffering from malnutrition have a harder time listening, concentrating, and learning. CITATION Dav14 l 1033 (Just, 2014)Emotional and Behavioral Challenges
Emotional well-being is another important component for a child of any age. A component that children living in poverty lack. As previously stated, many children living in poverty are being raised in a single-parent or care-giver home. There may be an absent mother, an absent father, or in some cases both, and the child is being cared for by other family members (i.e. grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc.). The absence of a present parent and the constant stressors of an unstable home life can cause chronic stress known as distress. Distress is toxic for children and impairs a child’s cognitive abilities causing emotional and behavioral challenges to manifest while children are attending school. There are two types of behaviors that children suffering from distress display. The first type of behavior is angry “in your face” assertiveness. The second type of behavior is disconnected “leave me alone” passivity. CITATION Jen13 l 1033 (Jensen, 2013) “So, they get labeled as discipline problems, when really they are living under chronic stress”. CITATION Jar16 l 1033 (Carter, 2016) These children are often viewed as the “bad kid” of the class and is frequently suspended or expelled from school.
What Does It Look Like?
Angry “In Your Face” Assertiveness
Talking back to the teacher
Getting in the teacher’s face
Using inappropriate body language
Making inappropriate facial expressions
Disconnected “Leave Me Alone” Passivity
Failing to respond to questions or request
Slumping or slouching
Disconnecting from peers or academic work CITATION Jen13 l 1033 (Jensen, 2013)Lack of Resources and Quality Teachers
Children living in poverty are faced with many barriers that effect their educational success, but one of the biggest barriers is a lack of access to resources. “Children may go from a home with limited physical and psychological resources for learning and language to a school with similar constraints, resulting in a double dose of disadvantage”. CITATION New17 l 1033 (University, 2017) These children are not only plagued by a lack of resources at home but are also faced with this same issue at the school they attend.
Lack of Resources at Home
“Children’s early exposure to a rich set of language practices can set in motion the processes that they use for learning to read, including the vocabulary and background knowledge necessary for language and reading comprehension”. CITATION New17 l 1033 (University, 2017) As aforementioned, many children living in poverty live in a single-parent or caregiver home. This means that the parent or caregiver is the sole provider for the household. Children in these households are often left to look after themselves while the parent or caregiver of the home is working low wage jobs to provide for the household. This results in a lack of verbal exchanges which helps build vocabulary. Due to a lack of finances, these children may have little to no books within the home which assist with literacy enrichment. The stressors of working strenuous jobs with long hours and still having limited finances by the parent and/or caregiver results in children within these homes receiving twice as many reprimands in comparison to compliments. CITATION Jen13 l 1033 (Jensen, 2013) This can be detrimental to a child’s confidence resulting in feelings of low self-esteem, hopelessness, and the inability to have a healthy and positive interaction with adults.
Lack of Resources at School
More than half of students that attend public school come from low-income families. CITATION Lay15 l 1033 (Layton, 2015) This means that most of these students entering school are already at a disadvantage in comparison to their wealthier peers. Thus, one would think that there would be an abundance of programs to help address these needs. Sadly, the truth of the matter is that schools located in low-income areas experience local and state funding gaps. According to a report released by The Education Trust, school districts with the highest rate of poverty receive about $1,000.00 less per student in state and local funding than those with the lowest rates of poverty. CITATION USD11 l 1033 (U.S. Department of Education, 2011) Lack of funding for these schools leads to less resources and interventions for struggling students, no afterschool programs and/or minimal availability, and cutting programs, but most importantly a shortage of quality teachers.
Shortage of Quality Teachers
“The quality of individual teacher’s is arguably the most important thing affecting learning in school”. CITATION Joh18 l 1033 (Fensterwald, 2018) A nationwide survey found that the high number of inexperienced teachers in public classrooms is a largely unrecognized problem that undermines school stability, slows educational reform and, according to new research, hurts student achievement. Many low-income schools are left to rely on inexperienced teachers due to high teacher turnover rates. High teacher turnover rates are caused by low teacher salaries, lack of administrative support, poor professional development, insufficient emotional backing, lack of resources, and poor working conditions. Inexperienced teachers are defined as teaching professionals that have less than 5 years’ experience. The fact of the matter is that inexperienced teachers are not extremely effective during their first few years of teaching. This is an unfortunate fate for children living in poverty. These children are more likely to be assigned an inexperienced teacher rather than the experienced teacher they so desperately need. CITATION Bel14 l 1033 (Beltran, 2014)
Although, every child is capable of academic success, children living in poverty will not be afforded this opportunity. Children living in poverty face many educational barriers including, health and nutritional challenges, emotional and behavioral challenges, and lack of resources and quality teachers. There is no perfect solution for poverty itself, but as a society we can make changes to increase the rate of educational success for children living in poverty. Providing these children with a better educational experience can assist in breaking the generational cycle of poverty and help these children find the key to their success.
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