Wednesday, September 21, 2011

365 Days of Reading: Tip #23 - Break the Cycle of Poverty



Children who are born into poverty are born into a distinct disadvantage when it comes to developing their vocabulary (Hart & Risley, 1995). Early vocabulary learning is KEY to a child's future ability to read and comprehend text of all types.

The other day, I posted about the importance of using a wide variety of specific, accurate labels in order to grow your child's vocabulary. But what if you were born into poverty yourself and therefore don't have a large vocabulary from which to draw when interacting with your child? It's not too late to educate yourself and increase the number of words you are exposing yourself and your child to. Remember - it matters NOW. The earlier, the better!

Here are some fun ways that will make a difference and won't cost you a penny:

  • Play Free Rice games. Not only will it help you grow your vocabulary (and your knowledge on whatever other subjects you choose to click), your usage will also result in donations to the World Food Programme to fight hunger.
  • Download the Dictionary.com app on your smartphone. You will get a new word (and other interesting trivia) each day through push notifications.
  • Pick up a free publication like Creative Loafing. These often feature similar word puzzles to those you would find in paid publications. Completing the word puzzles each day will engage the language learning in your brain.
  • Play Words With Friends on Facebook or on your smartphone. 
  • And finally - read, read, read! When you take your child to the library, make sure you check out a few books for yourself. Try to challenge yourself - for every book you check out for pleasure, check one out that you know will be something a bit different for you.
For those parents who WEREN'T born into poverty and have advanced education, you may be thinking that this post is irrelevant to you. It's not! Share your language skills by volunteering to read to a story time group at a local library or to be a tutor to kid who are struggling in reading at their grade level at your neighborhood school. 

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