Most educators in this country are well aware of the income gap. For decades, it’s been a persistent truth in the U.S. education system that wealthier students consistently outperform lower-income students in math and reading. Fortunately, an investigation conducted by a team of Stanford University researchers found that this gap has narrowed in recent years. The researchers have put forth a few theories to explain this narrowing, one of which is greater access to preschool programs.

The skills students have when they enter kindergarten tend to be predictive of how well they perform throughout their academic careers. High-income students often possess more school-readiness skills than their peers due to a variety of factors, including access to high-quality preschool. However, in recent years, low-income students have benefitted from more opportunities to attend preschool. The team at Stanford found the following:

“Although preschool enrollment has increased for high- and low-income children, the increase has been greater for low-income children, narrowing the income enrollment gap since the early 1990s (Magnuson & Duncan, 2014; Magnuson & Waldfogel, 2016). Magnuson and colleagues (2007) argue that the increase in enrollment rates and the decline in the enrollment gap between high- and low-income children are largely due to increases in public funding for preschool programs over this period. The increased enrollment of children from low-income families in preschool programs may have led to a reduction in the school readiness gaps at kindergarten entry.”

This is a promising trend. When lower-income students begin their academic careers on more equal footing with their peers, the achievement gap is less likely to materialize. Still, an important question persists: How can we help those students who have not attended preschool and/or do not possess the same school-readiness skills as their peers?

We are proud to offer our Funēmics program as a highly beneficial tool for your youngest learners in need of extra support in developing pre-literacy skills. Funēmics develops phonemic awareness, which is defined as “the understanding that spoken language words can be broken into individual phonemes—the smallest unit of spoken language.” For example, separating the spoken word “bat” into the phonemes /b/, /æ/, and /t/ requires phonemic awareness. Many kindergartners are able to do this, but many are not. The ability to understand spoken words in this way is an essential step toward learning to read, because reading requires connecting sounds to their corresponding letters. Read more about the importance of phonemic awareness here.

The beauty of the Funēmics program is that it develops phonemic awareness efficiently and effectively, and it does so with fun, kid-friendly activities based on rhythm, rhyme, and song. This engaging, and research-based program never shows the written word, so students can benefit from it even if they don’t yet know their letters. To them, Funēmics feels like play—which is how young students learn best. Click here to see a sample activity.

Helping students develop phonemic awareness skills is an essential part of closing the achievement gap. Students with strong phonemic awareness are better equipped to become good readers. And as you know, students with good reading skills have more success across all subjects. 

When the achievement gap is present before their school careers even begin, low-income students are at a disadvantage that can be difficult to correct. As educators, our job is to try to correct this problem in spite of the difficulties. A high-quality, research-based, and enjoyable program like Funēmics is a wonderful option. Please get in touch to learn more.