The secret weapon to eliminating poverty is words

The secret weapon to eliminating poverty is 30 million words. That’s right- there is a gap of more than 30 million words between the richest and poorest children and it’s this gap that’s KEY to how we kids are able to learn, increase language skills and even build neural pathways. The more words we hear, the more our brains literally grow.

“Take a look at the work of the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation. Using the principles of the 30 million gap, they have gone to some of the most remote and disadvantaged communities in Australia, especially those with high Indigenous populations, and tried it out.

Critically, they don’t just teach the kids — they teach the parents to teach the kids. To talk to them, read to them and engage with them in the same way that more advantaged parents do.

The results were staggering. In Kempsey, a tough-as-guts town in NSW, 90 percent of children in the program this year recorded a measured improvement in “phonemic awareness” — the ability to break down words into sounds that is the very foundation stone of literacy. i.e. the sounding out of C-A-T for “cat”.

In the extremely remote Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands in South Australia the improvement rate was 100 percent.

As the ALNF’s Mary-Ruth Mendel says: “Children from at-risk and challenging circumstances do not have to follow the predicted pathway that research paints for them. The sky is the limit when children have robust oral language and pre-literacy skills. This is an urgent call to action for all parents to get with the agenda on behalf of their children.”

That is the secret weapon. That is the magic bullet. All we have to do is fire it.”

Read the rest of this amazing piece by Joe Hildebrand here>>>

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