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Literacy is linked to things like graduation rates, socio-economic status, and even the development of social-emotional skills like empathy

3 reasons literacy is essential in child development


Literacy is linked to things like graduation rates, socio-economic status, and even the development of social-emotional skills like empathy

Literacy is a fundamental element of a child’s development. Literacy means much more than just knowing how to read a book. It can also impact the ability for a child to learn other subjects, to understand road signs when driving or crossing the street, and can be a major contributor to a child living a fulfilling life into adulthood.

Despite its importance, two out of every 10 children enter kindergarten with skills two to three years lower than their grade level, and another two start school with a one-year disadvantage, according to the Children’s Reading Foundation. Students who are behind typically make only one year’s worth of progress at each grade level, keeping them behind their classmates throughout school and making them more likely to repeat grades, according to ProLiteracy.org.

Today, literacy is evolving into much more than the ability to read the newspaper or the latest bestseller. It is linked to things like graduation rates, socio-economic status, and even the development of social-emotional skills like empathy. 

There are numerous reasons why literacy is one of the most critical life skills, but some of the top reasons, especially in the early years, are highlighted below.

Literacy Can Make or Break Their Future

According to ProLiteracy, more than 43 million adults living in the United States cannot read, write, or do basic math above a third-grade level. Even more startling are statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice linking incarceration and illiteracy, with an astonishing 70 percent of incarcerated adults unable to read above a fourth-grade level. Our children’s life outcomes literally depend on solving literacy instruction in our classrooms and allocating the right resources for early identification.

Ensuring strong reading and writing skills in the early stages of a child’s development can help to prevent bigger challenges later in life, such as unemployment, trouble fitting into society, and problems with breaking the law that lead to jail time.

Literacy Is the Foundation of All Learning

It has long been known by educators that literacy is tied to everything we do. Literacy is the foundation of all education and without it, students tend to struggle across all subjects in school. Research shows that students who do not read proficiently by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school than their peers who are proficient readers. According to the Department of Education, the more students read or are read to for fun on their own time and at home, the higher their reading scores, generally.

Reading Makes Us Empathetic

Research shows that reading fiction helps influence us to better understand what others are thinking and feeling. Becoming more empathetic creates a more peaceful environment and encourages students to project kindness and a more accepting outlook towards others. 

Moreover, research in neuroscience suggests that reading literary fiction helps people develop empathy, theory of mind, and critical thinking. That’s because, according to the authors, “when we read, we hone and strengthen several different cognitive muscles that are the root of the EQ (emotional intelligence), helping to foster the type of soft skills that set students up for success into adulthood.

In other words, the act of reading is the very activity—if done right—that can develop the qualities, traits, and characteristics of those that organizations hope to attract and retain.

Literacy is vital for students to succeed in life. For more education resources and tips on how to boost literacy rates in your district, follow the IMSE blog https://journal.imse.com/

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