America is a complex multicultural, multiracial country with the world’s third largest population behind China and India. Finland doesn’t compare.
If you are still not convinced, then let’s look at literacy levels by race in the United States There are four literacy levels: below basic, basic, intermediate and proficient. We are going to compare Intermediate and proficient—the two highest literacy levels—by race.
Sixty-eight percent of whites read at the two higher literacy levels; 54% of Asians; 33% Blacks, and 27% Hispanics. Source: National Center for Education Statistics at nces.ed.gov
The National Association for the Education of Young Children [naeyc.org] says, “Children take their first critical steps toward learning to read and write very early in life. … But the ability to read and write does not develop naturally, without careful planning and instruction. Children need regular and active interactions with print. …
“The single most important activity for building these under- standings and skills essential for reading success appears to be reading aloud to children (Wells 1985; Bus, Van Ijzendoorn, & Pellegrini 1995). High-quality book reading occurs when children feel emotionally secure (Bus & Van Ijzendoorn 1995; Bus et al. 1997) and are active participants in reading (Whitehurst et al. 1994).”
In addition, naeyc.org says that parents and family members should read daily [in front of and with their children]; read to children and encourage them to read to you; encourage children to use and enjoy print for many purposes; continue to support children’s learning and interest by visiting the library and bookstores with them on a regular basis.
This latest nonsense that children should just have fun and play to age seven before starting school and then start learning to read is a recipe for a disaster of biblical proportions. Learning to love reading [and books] should be a fun activity that starts in the home at an early age as it does in Finland.
However, because the evidence suggests that too many American parents—especially among Blacks and Hispanics—do not make reading/literacy important at home; early education programs that start at a young age and focus on literacy must not be abandoned.
Another way to look at this issue is to study the family values of Black and Hispanic/Latino students who are successful in school and are reading at or above grade level. What is the difference between successful families and those who are not succeeding?
I’m sure we don’t need a study to answer that question.
Return to Starting school at age seven—some claim—would be better: Part 4 or start with Part 1
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.
His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.
And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to kill Americans.
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