Effects of Poverty on Education

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Education is vital for the future success of young children. Children growing up in a low-income society can affect their learning abilities and their commitment to growing mentally, which alters their development as an adult. This results in their growth being reduced and can fall behind compared to other students. Graduation rates drop for students in low-income families in high school and may influence their lives in the future when looking for a job. Low-income student's education is at a lower quality which adjusts their development as a child and as an adult in their future. Children who grow up in low economic situations and circumstances have a limited range of vocabulary due to a lack of understanding of material and effort. In the book Faces of Poverty, written by Eric Jensen talks about how children from lower-income families hear about 13 million words by age four, while children from middle and high-income families hear 26 to 46 million words by the same age.

Basically, this book is saying that kids’ vocabulary is being underdeveloped resulting in kids being put at a disadvantage considering they aren’t learning as many words as others. Poor families ultimately aren’t able to provide as much reading and the same level of education needed to grow since they are working more. In the same study, Jensen states that “When children aren't familiar with words, they don't want to read, often tune out, or feel like school is not for them”. His point is that some students may feel like not putting in the effort because they feel like they will never get better, and aren’t pushing themselves to their full potential. Some of this laziness or not putting in the effort is not a trait passed down from parent to child, but a lack of desire to learn and grow.

Effort plays a large role in their development and is a characteristic that develops on their own. The development of a young child living in poverty is crucial, especially their vocabulary and involvement in school, which can affect long term goals as well. Children tend to drop out of school due to stress from life at home and from school. In a recent study, 62% of children who spent half their life in poverty got their high school diploma at 20 years old (Boghani). Their physical and mental growth can be restricted due to not understanding the material in school which can, later on, lead to dropping out. Education plays a huge role in their future since having a college degree can help provide a good job and is linked to good income in their future. In Kelley Taylor’s article, she introduces that students who have grown up in a low-income family are 5x more likely to drop out of high school, they are also 13x less likely to graduate on time like other students. Since the students’ education is already underdeveloped at a young age, those who do attend college will not be as successful considering their educational background and lack of progress. This results in poor studying skills and is unfortunately already setting them up for failure. Kids who are from areas with lack of a good education are left behind from all the other kids who have been prepared to succeed.

Poverty can have a negative impact on a child’s life significantly early on and transfer into their work-life as adults. Two-thirds of those who don’t earn a high school diploma are proven to earn an annual income of less than $25,000 when they’re older, (Taylor). Since these children are shown to not be as academically ready for school, they won’t be ready to handle commitments and tasks for a real job. This sets them up for a job that may not require an education which in the end results in a low income to provide for themselves and their families. It becomes a cycle that is hard to get out of when transitioning from a child in poverty to an adult. Children who are poor for most of their childhood are 13% less likely to complete high school and 37% less likely to get a job when an adult, (Ratcliffe).

Poverty that starts off early on as a child can lead to harder times in their future as adults. Not only can living in a low-class family affect their academic life, but also socially which can even lead to having children at a younger age. Poverty is a hard cycle that becomes more and more difficult to get out of especially when the education levels are not the same for low-income families. Low-income students’ education is already delayed since it affects them at such a young age which can ultimately impact their future jobs and earnings. The inability to increase vocabulary and mental development creates a big issue resulting from a small problem that is very important to young children. The quality of education is very important since all children should be given the same freedom and chance at a beneficial job to create a life for themselves. Education is widely looked upon as something everyone gets, but the quality is just as important as how many children are receiving it.

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Effects of Poverty on Education. (2020, May 14). Retrieved June 23, 2024 , from

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