Helping Children to Go to University
(goodbeginnings.net.au is under new management, this article previously appeared on the old website and was not written by the new site owners.)
Helping children to go to university starts at home, says The Hon Julia Gillard. Gillard says the nation needs a revolution in attitude towards higher education, starting with parents of disadvantaged children.
Research from the US shows that a typical middle class child enters first grade with 1,000 to 1,700 hours of one on one picture book reading, whereas a child from a low income family averages just 25 (yes, twenty five) hours.*
Whilst there is little research available in Australia right now, it is clear that children born into families living in areas of concentrated disadvantage are more likely to leave school early, have more teenage births and more health problems throughout their lives and die younger.
In the words of the words on Nobel Prize winning economist James Heckman; ‘ability gaps between advantaged and other children open up early before schooling begins. ‘Children who start ahead keep accelerating past their peers, widening the gap. Early advantages accumulate so do early disadvantages’. Perhaps the most succinct statement Heckman makes is ‘the best way to improve the schools is to improve the early environments of the children sent to them’.**
This is exactly what Good Beginnings has been doing since 1995; helping parents who for one reason or another are doing it tough.
Good Beginnings is a national charity that provides practical, community-based parenting programs and support to ensure children get the best start in life. We support, educate and encourage parents to provide them with the knowledge, practical skills, community networks and confidence to raise their children well.
Our free services focus on the wellbeing of young children and their parents, and range from parenting education, fathering initiatives and supported play groups to at-home family support for vulnerable or at-risk families with complex needs.
For more information visit www.goodbeginnings.net.au
* M. Adams, Beginning to read. (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1990).
** F.Oberklaid, Participation for all – waiting until school entry is too late (2008 Curriculum Association Conference Melbourne, November 10, 2008).