Poverty is an issue faced by more children in our nation. Children face problems related to poverty during their schooling. The price that children pay out of poverty is incredibly high than anyone can imagine. Each year, schools admit large numbers of children with needs brought about by poverty which is an issue that the school is usually not prepared to deal with. Poverty is a risk factor in the process of student’s education. This paper examines the impacts of poverty on teaching and learning which determines the student’s academic achievement. The concept of being at risk
This term refers to students who are faced by life’s social circumstances such as poverty that puts them at risk of underachieving in school. There are many risk factors which increases the chances of a student to failure. However poverty is regarded a major risk factor due to its compound effect. Some of the factors that are related to poverty and put a student at greater risk of failing include, very young parents, unemployment, low educational level parents, substance abuse, exposure to inadequate or improper educational experiences, dangerous neighborhood, mobility, abuse and neglect as well as homelessness. (Gromard, 2003)
These factors affect the physical status of the children as in dressing, the type of food they eat, their personal effects are usually of low quality or cheap. The physical disparities in among the students cause a wide gap between the poor students and their peers from middle or upper class families. Sometimes the isolation of this group of students is automatic in that they themselves assume that others do not want to associate with them. Teachers may also contribute in perceiving students in accordance to their social classes.
This is however a rare case because teachers are professionals. Nevertheless, there are some instances that the teacher may talk about an issue in the process of teaching and unintentionally touch the students from poverty stricken families. For example in studying population, the teacher may teach about demographics of poverty which is inevitable. This students may change their attitude towards the teacher and hence the subject. (Knapps, Shields, & Clementina, 2001) High mobility is a symptom associated with poverty in connection to other surrounding factors.
Students who come from poor families may live in daily or monthly rent houses. This is makes them to move day in day out as their parents look for jobs or runs away from problems like abusive spouses, financial responsibilities or criminal records. This kind of situation may also put the poor family homeless. The conditions they live in affect their education achievement. This result from the emotional impact that moving impacts on children. The children also are forced to join new schools occasionally where they may find it very difficult to adapt.
When this factor combines with other issues related to poverty, overwhelming effects on the students’ social, emotional and cognitive development are experienced. Students from poor families attend school irregularly. Transfers to new schools are a routine which brings about difficulty in socialization with new friends in the new school. This may make the student to become either withdrawn or hostile due to their experiences in their past attempts to make friends. The student may therefore develop an attitude of ‘why bother’ with regard to both social and academic aspect schooling as they will after all be moving soon.
Due to the various reasons of moving, which are often abrupt, the student come to the new school without records from their previous school which makes it difficult for the school to track the records. As a result, teachers lack the slightest idea of what the student have or haven’t leant. It is a big challenge for the school to place the new students in a class and provide them with the additional services they may require. Even when the school succeeds in placing the new students in class and providing these services, these students will likely move within the school year.
It is also difficult for teachers to teach these kinds of students something valuable as they rarely concentrate. Children from poor families become aware of the social economic classes that exist in the society at a very tender age. They grow being aware of their own class and that of their peers which make them to develop a class related attitude as early as in their elementary schooling years. This attitude id carried on throughout their lives in school. Inferiority complex or aggressiveness may be the end result of this effect of poverty in the student’s life.
However teachers can help children build up caring and sensitivity towards various cultures including social classes. Lessons and activities in the school should be designed on how children perceive the world and themselves during the different stages of development. For example at the age of eleven, children can comfortably reflect on the causes and solutions to poverty. Achievement gap Achievement gap is the difference in academic achievement between children from various groups or classes in relation to ethnic, income or race. The achievement of students is generally lower than that of middle and upper classes.
However at lower levels, children of poverty achieve more than their peers from well to do families. Children from low income families have more in their minds than quizzes, homework or extracurricular activities. As pointed out earlier in this work some may have spent their nights in the streets due to homelessness, at camps or compounds of their friends or relatives. Therefore they are often engaged in thinking about where they will spend that night as well as caring about their parents who go through hardships trying to look for a living for the family.
This affects their concentration in class and other school activities hence affect their performance academically as well as socially. (Brown, 2000) The reason for variation in achievement of students is determined by the social environment the students come from and the education that they receive in school. Poverty influences the quality of student’s learning behaviors, their past experiences with education, home environment and sometimes the teacher’s attitude which greatly affect the individual student performance. Students from poor or low income families are generally worried too much about themselves.
They usually feel out of place when interacting with children in other social classes. They may feel that the society is unfair by placing them in poverty. The students may decline from participating in class activities and this affects their learning in school. As proposed by Salvin 2001, schools impact on students’ academic achievements are powerful and the success of all the students regardless of their social economic class depend on the teachers’ perception of these students as at promise rather than at risk and at the same time preparing them to get to their full potentials in life.
A good education that is focused is usually the only means of breaking the vicious cycle of poverty for the poor children. These children require an education founded in high standards with high expectation for all. The curriculum should be aligned to ensure that a meticulous and assessment go hand in hand with the standards. The curriculum should avoid a decrease in opportunities for the students from the poor background.
What usually takes place in the classroom has influence on the achievement of the students and hence teachers should be careful when passing information to students. (Plumber, 2004) The teacher should avoid at all costs any activity that may discriminate students from poor backgrounds. The content of education should be of value and cultural relevant. Teachers should be aware that the instructional and classroom management methods do not necessarily work well for poor students. The teachers can help in closing the achievement gap.