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5 Facts About Poverty and Its Effect on Learning

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5 Facts About Poverty and Its Effect on Learning
Did you know that a staggering 43% of children in the US live in low-income families, with 21% of these children from families that fall below the federal poverty threshold? Research shows us that poverty can impede children’s ability to learn and contribute to social, emotional, and behavioral problems. It also can contribute to poor health and mental health. Risks are greatest for children who experience poverty when they are young and/or experience deep and persistent poverty. Research is clear that poverty is the single greatest threat to children’s well-being. Poverty is one of the most pervasive problems affecting public schools yet is rarely discussed as an education issue at all.

How Poverty Impacts Education

Here are 5 surprising facts you may not know about poverty and its effect on learning.
  1. Lack of Nutrition: The diets of students who live in poverty are rarely balanced or nutritious. Fresh foods are more expensive than pre-packaged alternatives, and inexpensive fast food is readily available. The hectic working schedule of parents holding multiple jobs to pay the bills often results in unhealthy meals.
  2. Poor Health: When children do not eat regular, well-balanced meals, their bodies are more susceptible to a variety of illnesses, like ear infections and asthma. Students who suffer from these chronic health issues are absent more often than other students, which can cause them to fall behind.
  3. Lack of Physical Activity: Families that live in poor neighborhoods may not have a safe place for children to play outside. The students’ only physical activity is during the school’s physical education program or during a short recess at lunch. This limited physical activity can result in a lack of concentration.
  4. Increased Stress: The effects of negative and unstable environments often manifest in children’s behavior at school. They may act out in different ways. Some students are more aggressive and talk back to teachers using inappropriate language. Other students disconnect themselves and become passive, they do not respond to questions or requests. Without stress relief, these students will struggle at school.
  5. Less Verbal Exposure: Vocabulary plays a major part in cognitive development and student success in the classroom. Children living in poverty do not participate in conversations like their middle-class peers. By the time students enter kindergarten, children from poor families have heard only half as many words as their middle-class counterparts. .
Today more than ever, education remains the key to escaping poverty, while poverty remains the biggest obstacle to education. These students have tremendous potential to succeed with the right combination of education and interventions. To learn how you can join to fight against poverty, check out this list of five tips to help get you started.

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