The Lubbock, Texas newspaper ran a story recently about how Hispanic students are preparing for college at a young age. A few misleading sentences were dropped into the article, suggesting that Hispanic college attendance rates are improving, while this rate has been stagnant. However, the article does identify one of the areas that has shown great promise recently–promoting college to preschoolers.
An ongoing experiment in changing family culture through education has been taking place at The Harlem Children’s Zone (run by fellow Beacon-Press author Geoffrey Canada). The Harlem Children’s Zone, or HCZ, is a non-profit agency that administers services in an almost 100-block area of New York, aimed at eliminating generational poverty.
One of HCZ’s more ground-breaking efforts is the Baby College, a nine-week parenting workshop for parents of children aged 0-3 years. While Baby College teaches new parents many tactics for properly caring for their children, it also encourages brain development from an early age through reading.
Studies have shown that a child’s vocabulary varies greatly depending on the parent’s income and education. Three year-old children from families on welfare know about 500 words, while children the same age, from professional families, know over 1,000. Not only does this have obvious effects on reading (and listening) comprehension levels when the child enters elementary school, reading also increases the child’s cognitive functioning.
The HCZ and Baby College are not aimed at Hispanic parents, but the lessons taken from HCZ need to be applied to communities in poverty around the nation. Raising educated children does not begin in high school, nor even in elementary school, but at birth.