The Learning Gaps Continue — We need to Act Now
August 7, 2015
The most recent learning ability scores for Minnesota school children showed that gaps between white students and Hispanic, African American, and Native American children continue at unacceptable levels. Seventy percent of the white children are reading at age appropriate levels compared to less than 40 percent of the children from the other groups.
Those gaps are not due to race or ethnicity or even the economic levels for the families of those children. Those gaps are due entirely to the fact that there are very different patterns of reading and talking to the children from each of the groups in the first three years of life, when basic brain exercise makes the biggest difference in each child's brain.
The book Three Key Years explains that reality and that science. You can get a free e copy of the book from this website by making this connection.
Brains do most of their development in the first three years of life for each child. The brains that get the most exercise grow stronger. That happens for children from every group. The process is the same for every brain. Children who do not get their brains exercised by adults in those first years have vocabularies with only hundreds of words rather than thousands of words by age three. Children who have fallen behind by age three have a very hard time catching up later. The first months and years are golden years for neuron connections in each brain and those golden opportunities melt away as the children grow older.
We can't afford to miss those opportunities for every child.
We need all parents and all families to know those basic biological facts. Very few parents know that science today. We have failed parents by not making that science clear to every family in America That is extremely important science to understand, and we have done an extremely poor job of teaching that science to parents, families and communities.
We need to make teaching that information to every parent and family a number one public health campaign for America. Minnesota clearly needs to make that teaching a priority. Minnesota has had the highest SAT scores in the country for its white students for ten straight years, and Minnesota has some of the very lowest learning level scores in the country for its Native American, African American, Somalian American, Hmong American, and Hispanic children. Minnesota actually has the worst high school drop out rates in the country for Native American and Hispanic children.
It is time for all parents to know that talking to children, reading to children, playing with children, and singing to children in those first three years of life are more than nice things to do...they exercise brains in ways that create neuron connections for each child that last for life. Talk, Play, Read, and Sing are behaviors that can happen in any home. They work wherever they are used to help children in ways that create a lifetime of benefit.
Now that we finally understand the science of early year brain development, we have a huge ethical obligation to share that science with every family and we have an ethical obligation to help every child. The book Three Key Years explains the process and the obligation and identifies ways that parents, educators, family members, and members of each community can use that information to help children.
Learning gaps for children at kindergarten and grade school will give us adults who can't find jobs because they can't read. Sixty percent of the people in our prisons either read poorly of can't read at all. We need to end that cycle.
We need to help parents from all groups in all settings get access to books, and we need day cares for all children from all groups to have books as well. We need all parents to know that they can exercise their baby's brain and we need all parents to know that basic exercise for their babies brain in those months and years can give their child a gift of great love that will last a lifetime.
This is not an area where we need to wait a long time for results. If we start now, we can have children entering preschool in two years with much richer vocabularies and they will be on a better learning trajectory that will last a lifetime. We don't need to wait 20 years or even four years to see a difference in our world. We can see a real difference in real children only three years from today. The process of brain growth is continuous and it happens every day for every child.
So start today. Help a parent or a family understand those key issues. There is almost nothing that you can do that can have a bigger improvement on someone's life. Change a life today. Make a difference for a child somewhere near you right now by getting that information to someone who can use it to help a child.
Lets make sure that the babies being born now never get into a learning gap world.That is possible to do if we mobilize and teach, and then do what needs to be done to help each child.
There is almost nothing more advantageous that we can ever do that will give us the leverage to change so many lives. Now that we know that to be true, we have the ethical obligation to do it.
Read the book Three Key Years.
It isn't rocket science, but it will create rocket scientists.