Sunday, November 26, 2006

Learning to read for children in "poverty" ;-)

Beverley Hughes claims that young children from families living in 'poverty' don't learn to read early enough. "If a child is in a more impoverished background where they are not necessarily going to get the enriching, stable environment at home, it will be to their advantage to start good-quality pre-school learning earlier," she said in this BBC news article.

I have two points to call her on (well, lots more than two, but two very striking ones..)

Firstly, if you have enough money to pay your bills and eat you are NOT living in poverty, by any logical definition of the word. Food is still very cheap and public libraries are free. State benefits are sufficient to cover all modest living expenditures, therefore parents on benefits/ without partners/ on lower incomes/ in social housing are being unduly singled out for unwarranted special treatment.

Secondly, being on a low income is actually helping my child to learn to read - not hindering her! Here's how:

She wants to eat custard, but the only way she can tell which is which out of the ultra-cheap tins is by actually reading the words.....

Each can could contain kidney beans (15p), chopped tomatoes (15p) or the custard (21p) she actually wants to eat - there are no pictures or other clues on the can apart from the words.

Proof that less wealthy children are not disadvantaged when it comes to learning to read - because we can't afford to buy food that has pictures on the labels! ;-)

*Edit* For clarity's sake I should perhaps add the following example conversation as a footnote:

Lyddie: Tom, what does this say?

Tom: Chopped tomatoes

Lyddie: And this one?

Tom: Kidney beans

Lyddie: What does custard look like?

Tom: It's runny and yellow.

Lyddie: No, silly! The word!

Tom: Oh, it starts with a C, like Clever Cat

Lyddie: It's this one then!

Tom: No, that's chopped tomatoes. Custard has U after the C, like Uppy Umbrella.

Lyddie: Ohhh then they're all chopped tomatoes or blooming kidney beans! I want some custard! They all say the wrong thing!

Tom: I don't think we have any custard, Lyddie.

Lyddie: *Walks away grumbling and muttering*


Anonymous Jax said...

rofl at your tin story!

I've ranted slightly differently about this story.

8:28 pm, November 26, 2006  
Blogger Gill said...

Ooh, going to look @ yours...

8:44 pm, November 26, 2006  
Blogger HelenHaricot said...

love the tin story - and obviously letterland type stuff working!
my parents were very tight for money when I was growing up. my education and childhood was not at all impoverished though.

8:51 pm, November 26, 2006  
Blogger Nic said...

The story reminded me very strongly of Charlie and Lola - are you familiar with them?

All our tins are similarly similar, I should issue the same reading challenge to my two :)

10:18 pm, November 26, 2006  
Blogger Tim said...

I think you should buy bigger tins, I couldn't read any of them. :-)

11:13 pm, November 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your tin story is brilliance!

11:36 pm, November 26, 2006  
Anonymous Jax said...

oh, the conversation wasn't there when I came before. Love the "what does custard look like" bit.

11:42 pm, November 26, 2006  
Blogger Gill said...

Thanks Helen, you're right: money can't buy you a better education than a stable, happy childhood.

Nic, I sort of am - Lyddie is more so. I guess it is a bit like them :-) Are they living in 'poverty' too? Hope so, we need some good role models on our side.

Tim, blame stingy Asda for printing them so small! Maybe Asda is living in relative 'poverty' Hmmm.... ^^

Leo, LOL, thanks :-)

Jax, yes those kind of conversations have been going on for a few weeks now, especially with the tins. Because they sometimes do contain the much-wanted custard and it's been like cracking some kind of treasure map code for her, learning to tell them apart :-)

7:54 am, November 27, 2006  
Blogger Tim said...

I think we have been through phases with Big, where she has tried decoding the world, Jax says she has now, finally, moved on to decoding road signs, which in the past, passed her by too fast. "Dewsbury" is quite a long word, after all, I expect she will work her way up to "Huddersfield" soon...

11:51 am, November 27, 2006  
Blogger Gill said...

Road signs are a great way of learning to read, aren't they? Our HE friend K, who learned to read 'by osmosis' at about the age of 9 and is now an honours student, started by decoding road signs when the family was on their way to various home ed meetings.

12:10 pm, November 27, 2006  
Blogger Em said...

ROFL having a pair of 4yo girls here I can so relate to your conversations with Lyddie.

My parents were also tight for money and I was reading before I went to school. I am a single parent on benefits and I don't believe my children are disadvantaged because of it. And living in a prosporous country like the UK I would never consider myself impoverished!!

And roadsigns are an obsession with one of mine at the moment, unfortunatly she's not learnt the art of asking me fast enough what it is before its gone, so a long and detailed description then follows and we try and work out what it was!

12:41 pm, November 27, 2006  
Anonymous Jax said...

oh yes, I love those long and detailed descriptions as you're hightailing it at 70 mph down a motorway...

2:11 pm, November 27, 2006  
Blogger Gill said...

LOL Em - it sounds like we have quite a lot in common! :-)

Jax, fun fun fun! I remember those kind of mad mornings ^^

5:40 pm, November 27, 2006  
Blogger Louise said...

Oh poor Lyddie but that story makes me grin :o)
I think you should send that to our darling MP....ole bloody Beverley!!! I am fed up of hearing her name at the mo, she seems to be everywhere and talking crap to boot!

7:22 pm, November 27, 2006  
Blogger Louise said...

BTW I didn't mean fed up of hearing her name on your blog though ;o)

7:22 pm, November 27, 2006  
Blogger Gill said...

Oooh I didn't know she was your MP! Yup, they keep on wheeling her out with their rubbish don't they? ^^

LOL yes poor Lyddie, I think she had to settle for a honey sandwich instead - such deprivation! ;-)

10:00 pm, November 27, 2006  

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