Essay on How Does Poverty Affect Education

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Our country is in dire need of a wake-up call to the sheer number of children falling victim to poverty and how their futures are consequently affected by this epidemic. 9 out of 10 members of the National Education Union believe that poverty and low income are having disastrous results on children’s learning. In our country, over 4 million children continue to live their lives in poverty and this undoubtingly gives all these children an unfair disadvantage from others through no fault of their own. So how as a nation can we continue to ignore that these children are struggling to thrive in education due to poverty?

Unfortunately, nowadays many children go to school feeling hungry and tired as their parents simply cannot provide for them. According to a study by the NEU, made up of 8,600 school leaders, 78% of staff saw children suffering from fatigue and 57% of pupils have experienced hunger as a direct result of poverty. As shown in these statistics, we can see that low-income families are unable to afford enough food with the right nutrition for their children. If children are not eating properly this can cause a reduction in the brain’s capacity which will in turn result in pupils having further difficulty in class. Also, studies show that a lack of sleep will have an effect on children’s concentration levels in the class.

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Furthermore, children from low-income households are more likely to be exposed to drug use or domestic abuse. An article by Community Care found that parental capacity can be affected by substance misuse and can also harm children’s development. This evidence obviously shows us that children affected by these factors are again put at a disadvantage by children from higher social classes than them as they are least likely to face these problems. It is also proven that children exposed to these conditions struggle pay attention or process emotions as they have to worry about their home situation.

In addition, children living in poverty tend to have less verbal and reasoning skills than those of their peers as their parents have less time to interact with them. As stated in a report by the Brooking Institution, under half of the poor children start school with early math and reading skills required in order to be prepared for learning. This highlights that children in low-income families are not getting the same start to their education which can affect them as they grow up and leave school. The same report also shows that more well-off parents spend just under half an hour more engaged with their children per day than that low-income parents. Yet again we can see how this makes a detrimental effect on the education of these children as they fall behind their classmates in these areas.

Likewise, children are set back in class again because poverty at home can trigger conditions that are less than desirable for children to concentrate. It is found that their brains develop better in low-stress environments which low-income households clearly don’t provide. According to the NEU, many children have nowhere to complete homework and insufficient sleep patterns due to overcrowding at home which will result in a lack of concentration and incomplete work. Also, the stress faced at home can cause children to have trouble coping with the problems they come across in school.

Another problem low-income children face is learned helplessness. This is a term used to describe when a person experiences a situation continuously so they believe that they can do nothing to change the outcome. In research by a former school teacher, Dr. Ruby Payne, she states that many poor children are unable to see a future that does not include poverty so therefore they do not possess the motivation to try to escape it. This evidently shows that children from low-income backgrounds are less likely to try to achieve a bright future where they can escape the poverty cycle. They begin to believe that they will not be able to break away from the poverty that their parents found themselves in. Even though it was not the child’s actions that put them in this position they lack the drive to get something better as poverty is all they have known.

However, many argue that a child from a low-income household can still thrive in life as shown through many rags-to-riches stories of famous celebrities. For example, famous country singer, Shania Twain, was brought up in an impoverished household with domestic abuse, and she often went hungry from lack of food. She then had to raise her younger siblings after her mother and stepfather suffered a fatal car crash. However, she was able to catch the attention of record labels and now has a net worth of roughly $350 million. This can be argued that despite her life in poverty as a child she was still able to achieve her goals and escape from poverty.

Sadly, the majority of the children living in low-income households will not be as fortunate as Twain as they are unaware of the possibilities for their future. Simply, children from poorer backgrounds are not taught effectively about the opportunities to improve their futures. As they have grown up in poverty they strive to earn more money instead of focusing on doing a job that they enjoy. It is false to say that some of these children lack the motivation to succeed as some unfortunately are not provided with the right information from the school. According to The Guardian cuts to schools have made staff redundant, class sizes have increased and teaching hours have been cut. How can we expect these same schools to provide the correct information to these vulnerable children in order for them to escape poverty?

The straightforward answer is no. We as a nation cannot continue to ignore the undeniable difficulties children face in education due to poverty. It is so clear that poverty affects children from such a young age that problems will continue to arise into adulthood until they follow the vicious poverty cycle that they have unfortunately watched their own parents face. We as a nation have to realize that the government is simply not doing enough to help those most vulnerable in low-income households as they are not giving them the ideal environment to succeed that other child their age has. We need to work as a country to help combat this issue before these children lose all hope of escaping from their parent's fate.

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Essay on How Does Poverty Affect Education. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from
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