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Early Literacy: Do Parents Matter?

by Michael Gramling
July/August 2009
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Article Link: https://www.childcareexchange.com/article/early-literacy-do-parents-matter/5018844/

The desire for a better life for our children is almost universal, and the belief that it can be achieved through education has been an enduring myth of American culture from the beginning of our history. Parents who scratched out an existence on frontier homesteads and parents who worked in the sweatshops of the industrial revolution alike still found the time to teach their children how to read and write. Parents bound in slavery had perhaps the best understanding of the power of literacy to transform their circumstances and risked consequences most severe to acquire these tools and pass them on to their children.

As access to publicly-funded schools became more widespread, though, the job of educating children passed from the hands of parents to the public school. Parents, however, still retained responsibility for early learning, and for generations, up to and including the baby boomers, what we now refer to as the process of school readiness occurred primarily in the home.

In one generation, all of that changed.

In 1974, only 7% of children in the United States received care outside the home. By 1995, that number had grown to 61%. Enrollment in year-round Head Start grew from 20,000 in 1965 to nearly ...

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