Do parents know how important they are?
Research conducted for the US government in 2014 revealed the enormous impact that parents have on early learning and the results that has for the trajectory of a child's life.
In a nationwide study of university educated and non-university educated parents a startling difference emerged in the formation of literacy, reported The Economist magazine in January. By the age of seven the child of university educated parents has been exposed to 32 million words. The child of non-university educated parents has been exposed to less than one third of that number.
The methodology of these sorts of studies is always open to criticism and the variation in results can lead to a feeling that nothing conclusive has been shown. After all, don't we all know academically successful adults from non-university educated family backgrounds? Of course we do. However, the general pattern reported in the article is of intellectual privilege leading inexorably to social and economic mobility. In a knowledge and service economy intellectual and academic capital is a significant advantage.
A child given access and exposure to the fundamentals of literacy in early life is much more likely to gain that intellectual and academic capital, and thus gain social and economic advantage. Parental engagement programmes must drive home the message to all parents that the language and attitudes they express towards learning do not just have an impact in school, they have an impact for life.