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How does poverty affect children’s education in United States?

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Poverty and children’s education are commonly related with each other and it is an issue that kids face more and more. As we know, there are many children being at risk to fail in school because of their life’s social circumstances. Even there are some factors that contribute for children fail in school, such as very young parents, unemployment, low educational level of parents, poverty is considered a major at risk factor.

Identify kids in those situations it is fundamental to support their growth and development. Thus, it is important to established caring relationships between students and teachers in order to prevent bad performances in school.  Academic and behavioral problems can be indicators of impending failure. Teachers may find children who do not study for tests, miss classes because of poverty related conditions in the home environment. These issues not only have an impact on the learning of the child of poverty but can also impact the learning of other children.

The increase on the number of children in poverty has contributed for classes more diverse and turn teaching and learning more challenging. Since many children are from different cultures and have different values, the social contexts have a significant impact on the development of children.

Those children usually live in bad conditions and their day-to-day experience can have a substantial effect on their education and achievement. Additionally, they are always moving from another place and therefore changing to another school so it is difficult for them to make friends and assimilate all that they have learned. It is challenging for schools to place these children in classrooms and get them additional services they may need. Even if placement is successful, these children will likely move again within the school year. It is also challenging to help these students to learn at least something of value.

By providing emotional support teachers may help students to use their experiences and knowledge to develop and learn. Thus, they can deal better with their own issues solving them and become people more active in the social life.

The differences in performance among students of different classes of groups it is called as the achievement gap. As we studied, children from families with lower income are more likely to fail in school and the most significant factor that contributes for these outcomes is related with the home environment. It happens because low-income families often have limited education, reducing their ability to provide a responsive stimulating environment for their children.

So it is important to develop mechanisms that could help these children to having a better performance at school. Many programs were created to fight against this social issue and an example of that is by improving the school readiness. The Perry Preschool Program  and the Abecedarian  trials are randomized controlled trials of early educational programs that targeted low-income children and showed benefits that extended beyond formal school years into adulthood. Children in the intervention were more likely to graduate from high school, attend college, have fulltime employment, and be enrolled in health insurance, and less likely to have felony arrests or depressive behaviors. These programs also contribute to their social and intellectual development and school success.  Another way to prevent this problem is by improving the family’s capacity to support Children’s development and academic achievement. These programs are aimed to decrease the negative effects of poverty on those families with the goal of improving the children well-being. They have a variety of delivery mechanisms, including a health center or system, home visiting by a trained worker, combining counseling with growth monitoring and providing group sessions for parents.

To conclude, we know that poverty is clearly a risk factor for children’s poor development and limited educational outcomes. So it is essential to find ways of reducing poverty for children’s healthy development such as adoption of strategies by governments, communities, and families that alter the deleterious processes whereby poverty limits and disturbs typical development. 


Rita Cordeiro #672


Patrice L. Engle and Maureen M. Black, “The Effect of Poverty on Child Development and Educational Outcomes”, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California, USA and University of Maryland Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland, USA


Author: studentnovasbe

Master student in Nova Sbe

One thought on “How does poverty affect children’s education in United States?

  1. Education is quite important and essential to everyone, and so all people should have access to it and face the same conditions. However, as you mentioned, children from poorer families may be faced in situations in which education may not be a central role in their lives.
    Having low educational parents might lead to few incentives on their behalf, which can cause demotivation for the kids, and low school performances.
    On the other hand, children who face conflicts in their homes, which happens when parents are unemployed or have low-income jobs, will not give that much importance to school and grades, since they have bigger issues to focus on.
    Even when they don’t have decent conditions at home, for example, lack of clothes or of a decent place to study, may also cause disinterest for studying.
    Due to all this, programs that aim at helping these children need not be only focus on the part of the school, but also to provide a better environment at home.
    Children International is an organization that helps children and provides them with clothes, shoes, books, computers, whatever is needed in order to assure a better lifestyle to the kids.
    It has been shown that children who stay in school face a higher probability of having a higher income in the future ( and so “forcing” them to continue studying and having better grades is a way of making sure that they will be provided with better job opportunities in the future.
    Another program that aims at improving these children school attendance is Plan ( Plan’s purpose is to assure children stay in school, by providing a better access and quality of the education. In order to improve the access to school, plan has built schools and renovated others; to meliorate the quality it has implemented a program, School Improvement Program, which provides textbooks and helps to renew teaching methodologies.
    Summing up, to help a children from a low-income family to stay in school and think of it as something good, there should be implemented programs to provide what is needed for a better education and to motivate children to study and have better grades.

    Maria Almeida, nr 637