New research shows the mere fact of being poor can affect kids’ brains, making it difficult for them to succeed in school. Untreated, researchers have found these events compound, affecting many parts of the body. Studies show chronic stress can change the chemical and physical structures of the brain.
As important as early childhood education is, we believe early childhood development is most important. If a child’s brain is not ready to learn, then learning simply will happen. And it’s not just the child’s brain, it’s their emotions, their mental health… their family situation.
Adversity in childhood seems to be THE determining factor of virtually everything in that child’s life and future.
One teacher at a Los Angeles school understood the problem. She puts it this way, “We had this understanding that we can not teach kids that are not ready to learn because they were preoccupied with all of the barriers they encountered on their way to school – or all of their fears they had leaving school.”
Now, we all know that our state – Montana – is not inner city Los Angeles. But did you know that poverty among our children is a real problem? Did you know that twenty percent (20%) of our kiddos are living below the Federal Poverty Line? For a family of four, the 2014 Federal Poverty Line is an income of $23,850 for the entire year. Try feeding your family of four on that!
By the way, where there is poverty, there most often are many other negative issues going on in that home. Alcohol abuse, drug abuse, family violence and other issues. It’s not in every family that is living in poverty, but many families for sure.
Don’t be fooled… poverty in Montana is an issue, and it’s effecting the ability to learn in our children.
If we want Montana’s children to be better educated so they can be competitive in the future marketplace, we need to assure that they are ready to be educated… and that means paying attention to, and mitigating adverse childhood experiences.
If we want Montana to rise up from the bottom of states funding early childhood education, then we need to assure that our money is well spent, and that means paying attention to, and mitigating adverse childhood experiences first.
If you want to do something about ending hunger in our children right here in Montana, go to NoKidHungry-Montana and get involved in the solution.
If you want to join a movement to elevate the well-being and futures of Montana’s children, go to Elevate Montana and get involved as a change-maker!