Unfortunately, poverty is a significant and growing problem in the United States. I must admit poverty runs much deeper in the brain than I ever thought. We know children raised in poverty face an uphill climb in many aspects of life. Various research data shows children growing up in poverty complete less schooling, work and earn less as adults, are more likely to receive public assistance, and have poorer health. A childhood in poverty often includes a lifetime of setbacks. The achievement gap in schooling is also very bleak.
So how can educators combat this ever growing problem? I personally think it starts with relationship building, relationships within the school and relationships with parents and families. While a challenge, developing positive relationships with parents and families of low socio-economic status and getting them involved with their children's education and school activities is a must.
The living environment of many children in poverty is high-stress, so one of our most pressing concerns should be to keep the stress level in the classroom low. We need to keep in mind that classroom environments that are safe and trusting can enhance learning. Classroom environments should be high in challenge and low in threat.
Parents, regardless of their socio-economic status, love their children and want them to succeed. Many of these parents need to learn strategies that can help them cope and help their children get a chance at breaking the cycle of poverty. We need to work together so we can provide the necessary supports and resources that will help break the cycle.