Public Release: 14-Apr-2017
Low-income children missing out on language learning both at home and at school
A double dose of disadvantage
New York University
Children from poor neighborhoods are less likely to have complex language building opportunities both in home and at school, putting them at a disadvantage in their kindergarten year, finds a new study led by NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.
The findings, published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, suggest that language learning should involve both families and teachers in order to overcome these early disadvantages and ensure learning opportunities for vulnerable students.
"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," said Susan B. Neuman, professor of childhood and literacy education at NYU Steinhardt and the study's lead author. "Our study suggests that neighborhoods matter and can have a powerful influence on nurturing success or failure."
Research shows that children's academic achievement is predicted not only by their family's socioeconomic status, but also by the socioeconomic status of their school. These two factors together have an impact on children's access to learning resources, including adults who create language-rich opportunities when they speak with children.
"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," Neuman said. "Consequently, children who have limited experience with these kinds of linguistic interactions may have fewer opportunities to engage in the higher-order exchanges valued in school."