Three weeks ago my son and I took a trip to Florida to support my nephews as they got confirmed and took communion for the first time. It was also a much needed mom and son bonding time. It has been a hard year for homeschooling and I have had a lot on my plate. So much so that it was emotionally exhausting.
So yes, this trip was a mini get-away as well as a time to get together with family.
We arrived in Miami. Checked into our hotel in Coral Gables, and to my surprise, the hotel service as good for a 2 star hotel in Coral Gables. Here I am thinking: omg… this is going to be a nightmare! But it wasn’t. The rooms were clean, the guest service was pleasant, and I was in my childhood neighborhood.
It brought back memories, which, believe it or not, relates to what affluent kids have that impoverished kids lack– students lack positive academic role model.
Growing up in Miami, my brothers and had had been affluent kids up until my parents divorced. I was about 7 years old. Then something happened. We ended up in public school. Third grade was hard. I had to acclimate to a new school and make new friends. To make matters worse my grandmother decided I would look great with my hair cut like a boy! This did not go over well and I got laughed at and picked on a lot. I was even called a coconut head! I loved school and I loved to learn but that year had been a particular hard year for me.
Academic challenges are often deep-seeded and begin in primary and secondary school, which when left unaddressed, often leads to remediation at the postsecondary level.
The year came and went. And 4th grade started. I fought to be placed in fourth grade. I really didn’t want to repeat a year AGAIN! So when I saw my name back in 3rd grade, I protested. I told my teacher that I was told I passed. I pushed myself hard and really tried to learn but one of the things that made me stop caring about school was this–one day in reading and writing class, we were supposed to be doing exercises and learn how to find the main idea. I asked a teacher helper, how do you find the main idea when it’s not there? When it’s implied or inferred? I just don’t get it. My teacher and the helper didn’t know either. They said, “It’s just there. You have to find it.” This made me second guess my education. I thought: “screw it. If you don’t know and you can guide and help then what the f***k! am I going to school for?!“
There are several factors that contribute to low-income students entering college with poor math and reading skills. Here are some of them:
- No access to books. Or lack there of. Luckily I had some exposure to books. I used to get Highlights magazines sent to my home. We had a nice set of encyclopedias. And I had Sweet Pickles book series. Do you know those? They are classics. I read them over and over again. We had Disney audio books — on record! We had a nice school library with a REAL librarian. Not some para filing in the space. I was lucky because many low-income kids aren’t exposed to books. Like my bestie, I will call her Sally. She had no books. Her parents were really poor. * Did you know that in low-income neighborhoods there is one book per every 300 children? I guess I was considered middle-income because between my brothers and I we each had 13 books.
- Language barriers. I am often asked if I had a language barrier because maybe English was a second language. I am like… no. no. no. I didn’t have a language barrier. I learned English and Spanish simultaneously. My mother left her country Cuba when she was 15! I think she had a language barrier but my brothers and I did not. My mother graduated from high school in her country. My father says he has some college. But my mother studied a trade in America. There was no language barrier. But many kids that are like my mother may have a barrier especially since English IS a hard language to learn. Did you know that English has 44 different letter combinations? English is made up of a bunch of different languages: Greek, french, Latin, German, Anglican, Saxon, Nordic… Spanish is not so hard.
- Lack of stability. This was probably were my problem with learning and school come from. Our home was tumultuous – my parents got divorced. This brought challenges that affected learning. Luckily, my brothers and I had awesome grandparents that were there to help guide us and inspire us where my mother couldn’t by herself. And when my dad disappeared. I love my dad. The year they divorced was one of the hardest years for me. I used to tell my dad, “tu eres mi papi y de nadie mas!” (you’re my dad and no one else’s) And thankfully, we were blessed with a house. We didn’t relocate homes only changed from private school to public schools.
- (4.) First Generation student? Maybe. Perhaps. The low-income student is the first to go to college. My grandfather, on my moms side had a fifth grade education but even with a fifth grade education he had a lot of wisdom to share. He would come home, sit in his easy chair by the window in the living room, and work crossword puzzles in Spanish–Miami had a Spanish newspaper called El Nuevo Herald for the old Cubans in Miami to get their news–I would sit next to my grandfather after school and attempt to do the puzzle with him, showing off my Spanish skills. I wasn’t very good.
Perhaps, many kids just don’t have parents that place a big priority in school. Maybe family is a bigger priority. But I do know one thing. It is the fact that my grandfather always said, “Marla, get an education. Doesn’t matter what you go to college for, just go.” This was always in the back of my mind as an adult. My grandparents always spoke about education as if saying, it’s not so much that you need a formal education but that in America, education means status. That degree means status. My grandfather used to also say “La educacion empieza en casa.” (Education begins at home) Therefore, it does you no good going to college and getting a degree and getting status if that is the only education you ever know.
What’s this story have to do with your what affluent kids have? What’s the $5 alternative? Have you guessed?
Well. When you are present in your kids lives. Sharing stories with them. Reading to them. Passing on wisdom from the grandparents. Buy them books. Let them pick books. Your are giving your kids an advantage in education. You are giving them-education status.
In homes where education is not a priority, high standards need to be set for students from birth where language skills, language exposure, reading expectations, a love of learning, and a connection can be made between academic success and future success. Exposure to books, after school programs, summer learning experiences, volunteering, and positive role models are crucial for all students.
Luckily, you can keep your kids from lacking what affluent kids have.
What do affluent kids have? Um, they have books at home to read.
And you have just the thing to help them be proficient readers.
It’s called the 5 B’s of reading.
The tips in that little guide for reading are like a squeegee that wipes away the suckiness from the economically-challenged students and leave your kids with a resilience to weather the difficulties that catapults people from poverty to self-sufficiency to prosperity. It allows the students whether from low-income or middle-income to beat the odds, succeed, and thrive.
Did you check it out? If so, I’d love to hear from you.
What part of the 5 B’s do you find your kids most picking up a book?
1. Baskets ‐ When books are placed in baskets, they can see the front cover and are more likely to pick it up and read it! It’s also easier for them to put them back which could result in a cleaner house! ☺
2. Bathroom ‐ It’s actually the room in the house where the most reading happens! Put a basket of books in the bathroom for your children to read while they’re in there.
3. Breakfast Table ‐ Children tend to read the back of a cereal box if it is placed on the table, try giving them some books!
4. Bedside ‐ These can help your Child wind down before napetime or bedtime. Let reading be the “treat” that allows them to say up a little later.
5. Backseat ‐ Put some books in the backseat of your car so your children can read while traveling!
Reply to this email and tell me what you discovered you think kids from affluent backgrounds have that low-income kids sometimes lack?
You can also reply just to say “hey.”
Well, say more than that. Introduce yourself or something. Tell me your ideal final meal. Or your desert-island TV series. Or what you do. Or something embarrassing about yourself, because I live for that sheeezzz.
Want to give your kids what every affluent kid has (the kind that pay off in both confidence and success)?
– Want raise readers that have their nose in a book (and out of trouble)?
– Wish you had a home library that gets your kids excited to read — in a non-nerdy way?
– Long to raise lifelong learners?
Here’s what you need to check out next. (It’s My mini-course that shows you how to guide your kids at home and help them go from average reader to proficient reader.)
See you later alligator. And remember the 5 B’s of Reading!
ps – I mean it, I love hearing from you. Comment below!
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