It’s a fact that children who grow up in poverty are less likely to do well academically – but why?
It would be easy to make assumptions and perhaps claim that children in poverty have less knowledgable parents who cannot support their children with homework or who lack the motivation to encourage and support their children in their learning journey. However, there are many elements that can affect a child’s development and children living in poverty are being exposed to more than one challenge.
Indeed it may be the case that their parents are dealing with their own difficult circumstances, that their focus is therefore elsewhere and perhaps this distracts them from providing some of the initial starting blocks in learning for their child or in supporting them later on in education. However, they are many other influences that can make a big difference to a child’s ability to not just thrive to an average level, but to succeed to their full potential.
Children living in poverty may be living in stressful circumstances whereby getting to bed at a decent hour is a challenge – perhaps because they stay up late to see a parent who has worked late or because they are in shared accommodation. A poor sleep routine or lack of sleep will impact drastically on a child’s ability to learn and remember vital information.
Nutrition cannot go unmentioned of course. A poor diet will affect the brains ability to work and provide the required energy to focus and concentrate at school. There will also be physical implications to growth and overall physical development will slow down.
Poor nutrition can also lend itself to a compromised immune system, meaning that illness will occur more regularly. Not all children who are living in poverty are living in squalid conditions, but if there is a lack of good hygiene then there is an increased likelihood of infection. When this happens the child would be encouraged not to come into school until they are fit and healthy to do so.
Any irregularity to routine that takes the child away from learning opportunities or out of school could affect their confidence and self esteem. It can be difficult to catch up if they fall behind academically, and as well as this making them feel as if they are being left behind, it can also cause fractures in friendships and disjointedness in socialisation skills.
Humans are social beings and we learn as much from our peers as we do from the lessons we attend. Missing out on these important learning opportunities due to illness or time away from our classmates when they are coming together (even missing out on attending a classmates birthday party) all create a missed opportunity to engage and learn.
Of course it is not possible to save every child living in these circumstances or to give a pot of gold to every family who are living hand to mouth. So realistically what can NLP4Kids, a private paid for service do for these children?
Our most reliable method for accessing these children is via the pupil premium funds they receive in their school, or from the corporate sponsorship we receive. Giving these children who live in poverty access to an NLP4Kids practitioner means that they have an Independent listening ear. Someone that they can talk through their problems and worries with and learn some tricks to help them, catch up quickly with areas of learning and development that they may have missed or to feel hope and positive belief that they are just as talented as their classmates.
It is unrealistic to expect teachers, who are mindful of the 30 or so other pupils to whom they must attend, to pay special attention to those children who would most benefit from having that attention – which is why every school who receives pupil premium should also have an NLP4Kids practitioner to work with key children on a one to one.
To find out who your local NLP4Kids practitioner is, and if they have access to corporate funding to spend in your school, click here: http://www.NLP4Kids.org/find-practitioners
By Gemma Bailey