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Helping disadvantaged children catch up

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By Merilee Dannemann

While New Mexico’s children were out of school for summer vacation, some of them were forgetting what they learned last year.
When they return to school, they will be further behind their peers.
Children who lose ground, the studies say, are those who can least afford to slip behind.
They are the children who are already disadvantaged — identified by poverty and affected by the social ills poverty so often creates.
They may lose as much as three months’ worth of learning over the summer.
Think of it this way: middle class children with educated parents get twice as much education as disadvantaged children. They are exposed to learning at home, from their families and their environment. They see books, magazines and computers. Their parents talk to them, expanding their vocabulary.
One in-depth study recorded thousands of hours of conversation between parents and their children and counted words.
The study found upper income families used 2,153 words every hour; middle-income families used 1,251 words; and welfare-recipient families used just 616.
An upper income child at age 4 has been exposed to 30 million more words than a disadvantaged child.


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