Household income and your child's learning abilities

Have you ever wondered if money had a say in your kid's level of intelligence? For those who wonder if money makes kids smarter and aids with learning, we have news for you. A Singapore study answers the question. Click here for the verdict!

A child's learning abilities

Find out what’s money got to do with your child’s learning abilities!

Executed earlier this month, Singapore has rolled out a fresh government-supported initiative to study the role household income plays in a child’s development during his formative or preschool years—and the verdict?

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No money, no talk?

While the research has not yet reached completion, preliminary findings indicate that students from lower-income backgrounds tended to exhibit reduced oral capability when compared to their higher-income counterparts. The project is funded by the Ministry of Social and Family Development.

In line with the initiative, a total of 166 kids between the ages of four and five were observed by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and National Institute of Education (NIE) researchers in September of 2012. A series of tests were run to evaluate oral and cognitive abilities as well as several other key factors.

Six months in, 92 of the same lot were re-assessed using the same examinations. Incidentally, it was found that while a child’s progress in mathematics and reading remained unchanged across income brackets, there appeared to be a noticeable difference in speech and oral abilities. These results have since been made public.

What about the underprivileged?

Local specialists in education and preschool educators have been quick to offer strategies to remedy this inevitable imbalance. A prime recommendation has been to initiate intervention programmes aimed at aiding kids from underprivileged communities or homes by honing their verbal skills at an even earlier age.

Another core element was getting parents on board and encouraging a deeper involvement and keeping a closer watch on their child’s learning progress and coaching them along.

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Parents play a big role

Parents play a big role in their child’s learning

Crossing the ‘t’ in talking

A third step surrounds the premise of parent-child communication, especially since talking is instrumental to shaping speech and extending vocabulary. President of the Association for Early Childhood Educators in Singapore, Christine Chen elaborates on this premise.

According to her, for families with financial difficulties, the verbal exchanges between parent and child did not appear as strong, and their vocabulary not as large.

Preschool teachers could be more descriptive when they speak to children (from lower-income families) to help them pick up words, she advises.

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Sound teaching and fine learning

“The childcare centres here have a pretty good curriculum and teaching—so children got a good education in English and Mathematics. Family income does not really make a difference as everyone gets the same education in school,” NTU’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences Assistant Professor, Qu Li shares.

She also noted that how parents talk to their children at home does help improve his or her oral skills, speech, reasoning and comprehension. She added that kids from disadvantaged backgrounds were inclined to be less vocal.

At the same time, Qu points towards limitations in the study, citing only children’s oral skills in English tested as a key factor to consider. It is believed that for more conclusive results, the ongoing study will have to see conclusion.

Education is every parent’s responsibility

In essence, regardless of financial status, it is every parent’s responsibility to ensure that their child’s learning needs are met accordingly. It may take work to figure out what pace junior is at and how best to help him develop age-appropriately, but that’s the very least you can do for your kid. His learning is your priority!

A toddler or preschooler’s formative years are her launch-pad to eventual growth and learning success in the real world, so to miss a beat is to land your child in choppy waters, from an educational standpoint. Sometimes, all you need is patience, dedication, passion and diligence for the little one to thrive—yes, even more than money!

For further insight on parental involvement, watch this video:

Source: Today Newspaper