Lawmakers and educators search for answers to this growing problem: what is wrong with our educational system and, more importantly, what can be done about it? According to 2011 National Institute for Literacy reports, a whopping 47% of adults in Detroit, Michigan are “functionally illiterate.” How’s that for a shocker?
Perhaps it is finally time for this country to embrace the wisdom of Dr. Maria Montessori; nearly 100 years ago, Montessori made powerful observations regarding the avenues through which children learn naturally and easily. Montessori discovered that children between birth and 6 years of age have sponge-like, absorbent minds.
Children at this age experience sensitive periods during which they, in the right environment, will seek knowledge effortlessly and automatically. (Click here to enjoy Age of Montessori’s highly informative, free webinar on this subject.) In other words, all children are predisposed toward learning to read and write during specific periods of early development; if these periods are nourished properly, children will learn to read and illiteracy in this country could be largely eliminated.
"If writing serves to correct, or rather, to direct and perfect the mechanism of speech in the child, reading assists in the development of ideas and language. In brief, writing helps a child physiologically and reading helps him socially." ~Maria Montessori
Just in case you are not quite convinced, here are a few more staggering statistics:
“Children who have not developed some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are 3 - 4 times more likely to drop out in later years.”
~National Adult Literacy Survey, U.S. Department of Education
“One child in four grows up not knowing how to read.”
~National Center for Education Statistics
“Children's comprehensive, conceptual and behavioral patterns are primarily shaped between the ages of birth to five years. It is especially important for families and child caregivers to read to children early and often.”
~Introduction to Early Childhood Education, Essa, E.
“…27 percent of high school students make it past their freshman year.”
~Indiana University Report 2005
“The educational careers of 25-40 percent of American children are imperiled because they don't read well enough, quickly enough, or easily enough.”
~ National Research Council
“Approximately 50 percent of the nation's unemployed youth age 16-21 are functionally illiterate, with virtually no prospects of obtaining decent paying jobs.”
~U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
“About three in five of America's prison inmates are illiterate.”
~Washington Literacy Council
“Since 1983, more than 10 million Americans reached the 12th grade without having learned to read at a basic level. In the same period, more than 6 million Americans dropped out of high school altogether.”
~A Nation Still at Risk, U.S. Department of Education
“44 million adults in the U.S. can't read well enough to read a simple story to a child.”
~ National Adult Literacy Survey, U.S. Department of Education