It’s reported that about 20% of the American population is functionally illiterate*; that means that approximately 1 in 5 people over the age of 15 are unable to complete a series of tasks necessary to function in today’s society. They read below 5th grade level and may not be able to follow a basic recipe. These are everyday, intelligent people that just have a few gaps in their education—and chances are you know one. In fact, there may actually be someone in your family struggling right now!
As Americans, we like to think that our public educational system fully prepares each individual to not only function but thrive out in “the real world.” As parents, we send our children to school assuming they are learning everything they need to know. As long as they pass their classes, we feel we don’t need worry. Sadly, this is not always the case. Many children are pushed through our educational system—passed along every year—with learning and retention scores far below where they should be. They might receive a diploma and still be unable to read a newspaper or fill out an application. Do you find that frightening? You should! Because these people can edge along in life for awhile, but someday the lack of comprehension will catch up to them. It may be a medical informational pamphlet they can’t read, or a legal form they don’t understand.
As parents, it is our duty to monitor our children’s education. This goes beyond looking at a report card and asking if homework is finished—it means engaging your child in conversation:
- What do they talk about? How do they communicate?
- How broad is their vocabulary, and do you see it expanding?
- Ask them to work with you in the kitchen– with them reading the recipe aloud.
- Ask them to read you the newspaper while you cook dinner.
- Ask them their viewpoints on current events.
- Read books as a family; each member taking turns reading a chapter.
The unfortunate truth is that the percentage of high school graduates ready for college is still pretty low. According to ACT, in 2014 only 57% of students took the ACT test; of that, 64% met the English ACT College Readiness Benchmark**. Until our educational system places the focus on the best interests of the children, instead of passing ill-thought out policies that actually hinder our children’s education, we need to find other ways to fill these educational gaps.
We Want to Hear from You: Tell us, what activities do you do at home to encourage your children’s education?
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*Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Institute of Literacy (4.28.2013)
** Act.Org http://www.act.org/research/policymakers/ (2014 Report)