Poverty ‘impacting’ children’s ability to learn

Money does matter when it comes to children’s learning and if the household is poor, a child is likely to be less successful in the classroom, with potential lifelong consequences.

That is according to economic sociologist Professor Richard Layte whose research has found some of the more challenging classroom behaviours and lower ability of many working class children can be traced back to the resources families have available to them.

Prof Layte of Trinity College Dublin and the ESRI, is one of the keynote speakers at a conference which gets under way in Co Louth tomorrow, said lower income reduces parents’ ability to buy educationally stimulating materials for the home and for the child.

It also curtails their ability to expose children to the kind of events that help expand their horizons.

“It’s harder to be a good parent when you don’t have enough money. Even well-educated professional parents get worse at parenting when they come under economic strain,” Prof Layte said.

The stress leads to parents becoming “harsher, more inconsistent and more distant”. Economic pressures led to psychological distress and depression, both of which were “toxic to good parenting”. Prof Layte, a researcher in the Government-funded Growing up in Ireland longitudinal study, said the family psycho-social environment had a significant impact on a child’s learning and behaviour.


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