Advanced search

What can non uni educated/low income parents do to bridge the educational gap

(155 Posts)
ilikespaghetti Sat 29-Apr-17 22:17:49

Read part of the parental income thread & felt quite disheartned, dh & I are non uni educated & would be on quite an average payscale. We want to give dc the best educational prospects we can but all the odds are against us so it seems. How can the likes of us bridge the edcuational gap & ensure our dc can compete with kids from private schools & kids who are from homes where both parents have degrees etc... Bit sad reading the thread to be honest...

Jellybean85 Sat 29-Apr-17 22:33:23

Trust me I work with deprived kids and children in need and the key thing is interested parents!! Read with them, check out free events at your local library, go to museums, and science museums, take them to education stuff and get involved!
Doesn't matter that you don't have degrees the fact that you care and want to help will give them a great advantage.
Encourage them to dream big and look into
Education careers so you can answer any questions they have

titchy Sat 29-Apr-17 22:36:18

First off - the VAST majority of kids who go to university, even the very top ones, attended state schools, so don't worry about not being able to afford private schools.

All you really need to do is support your dc, take an interest in what they're doing at school, make sure they do their homework, and just generally be a household that values education and considers it important.

All the other fluffy stuff, extra curricular, museum trips, foreign cultural holidays etc are nice to haves, but not deal breakers.

greathat Sat 29-Apr-17 22:37:24

Be interested, support them in learning. BUY THEM BOOKS. Some of the most academically challenged kids I've taught have been ones where I've asked them to bring in a book from home and they've said "We don't have ANY books at home!" Get them to ask questions and if you can't answer them, look them up together. Find things they are interested in - and help them to explore them

ImAllShookUp Sat 29-Apr-17 22:42:48

Read, read, read with them. Encourage them to do their homework. Instil a belief that school and revision and homework are worthwhile. Talk to them about current affairs, politics. Keep them away from social media and video games as long as you can. Limit the number of hours a day the TV is on. Encourage critical thinking, ask them why they hold a certain belief, challenge it and show them how to see two sides of a debate.

Somerville Sat 29-Apr-17 22:44:32

Yes to PP's advice about books. Join a library and take them every week. And not only that, but get books out yourself and model reading - show them that it's fun, talk about what you're reading.

Subscribe to (or borrow from library) a children's newspaper, or listen to radio 4 a lot and discuss current affairs.

Take them to museums and events as they get older. These are often free.

Neither of my parents went to University, and I went to Oxford. smile I really and truly think the main thing that got me there was my library card.

Parietal Sat 29-Apr-17 22:47:18

also, the best predictor of children's educational success is how much their parents care about education. not money, not private schools, not tutors etc. having books and being interested are the key ingredients.

QuitMoaning Sat 29-Apr-17 22:49:26

None of my son's parents or step parents have a university degree. I am now earning well but for the first 12 years of my son's life, I was a single parent on part time wages.

My son is above average in intelligence (not genius, just above average) and he is at university. His success at school is because I was behind him all the way. I read with him, played games with him and encouraged him to try and reach his potential. Having money is lovely but no amount of money can compensate for parental involvement.

Crunchyside Sat 29-Apr-17 22:52:35

There isn't anything specifically about parents having a degree and a good job that gives kids better opportunities, I suppose it's more of a statistical thing that educated parents will be more likely to do the kinds of things that encourage academic success - like Jellybean said, being interested, doing educational stuff together etc.

I was the first person in my family to go to university and come from a solidly working class background. But it just so happens that my parents placed a high importance on education - gave me plenty of support with my schoolwork, took me to libraries, museums etc, taught me to read before I started school and encouraged my love of reading, bought me lots of really great kids books including non-fiction, encouraged my interests etc. I did better at school than some of my friends with more middle-class families so I can't really see how my parents being higher educated and higher paid would have made much difference. It's about how interested and engaged you are.

Most importantly, not being university educated doesn't make someone uneducated. I know plenty of adults without degrees or even A-Levels, who are incredibly well-read about a wide range of topics, politically engaged, and really knowledgeable about special areas of interest such as history or computing. Meanwhile I know one bloke with a degree who isn't too bright, no interests other than football, supports Trump, really lazy and closed-minded! So yeah, a degree is no guarantee of good sense...

TalkinPeece Sat 29-Apr-17 22:56:05

Family meals with no phones and no telly
Read and listen to the news

Those are the "soft power" things that will make the difference
but a joy of reading and discovery whumps pretty much everything else

Pallisers Sat 29-Apr-17 23:01:46

I think you just need to be interested and engaged - and you are, judging by the question you asked in your OP.

My father didn't go to university but was one of the best educated and interested/interesting men I ever met. I have met people with advanced degrees who have no curiosity and no conversation.

I would say the following:

Have an interested, engaged, curious loving home where their friends are welcome, their thoughts are listened to, they are part of the conversation, they are valued. This is the single best thing you can do for your child. It is harder if you have to work shifts/second job etc but it is essentially free.

Join a library. If possible have books in the home. When your child expresses interest in something, get a book out of the library on it.

Find out the cheap/free times at local museums and go there.

Ditto, find any free camps/mentoring etc that is there and get it - I have a friend who does this for her kids and they have really done amazingly - neither parent went to uni

Read a book together as a family - at the beginning maybe read aloud, and then have everyone read the same book over the summer for example.

Google and come up with interesting questions to ask at the dinner table and ask them. Make dinner a time for talking.

Be interested and engaged in their school if possible.

Schoolchauffeur Sat 29-Apr-17 23:01:49

You sound like a great parent! My parents left school aged 15- one to be a builders apprentice and the other to look after younger siblings and work in a cake shop. They married when mum was 18 in 1958. Both were intelligent but with very limited formal education.

I ended up getting in to a selective girls grammar, straight A student, law degree at very good uni and solicitor qualification. All because my parents valued education and supported me to do well. I was born in the mid sixties and we had very little money, but mum loved reading so we joined the library and went every single week. It was back in the days when primary schools set no homework, but we had " optional projects"- well they weren't very optional in our house! Mum had us out researching, taking and drawing pictures, and interviewing people. We entered library competitions and went to free exhibitions and events.
Dad wasn't a reader but he was great at maths and spent ages doing fractions with me when I just couldn't get it.
But above all they were interested and made us value education and do our homework and revise for tests. They knew nothing of O levels, A levels or UCAS forms but Mum came to find out everything at the school and got support for me on choosing courses and unis etc.
There was no money for expensive trips or holidays- days out to London to see the sights happened about once every two years and we had one holiday ( visiting my uncle in another part of the UK) in my whole childhood until I went on a school exchange to France!

WyfOfBathe Sat 29-Apr-17 23:07:00

Be engaged with your children's education, e.g. listen to them read, attend parents evenings, make sure they have pens/paper if they need them.

Encourage them to pursue their interests, e.g. if you have a budding scientist, you could help them look up facts online, borrow books from the library, try some "kitchen science"

Help with homework and show them how to find help from books and the internet.

Let them help you with tasks like weighing food when baking (maths) or writing a shopping list (literacy)

My parents do now have degrees, but I was born when my DMum was 19 so she found the early years of my life pretty hard. My grandparents always made time to read with me though, and I'm still an avid reader at 30.

thesandwich Sat 29-Apr-17 23:07:43

Mixing with and talking to people of all ages- any opportunity to talk to adults etc. Brownies/ scouts/ music groups to build confidence. But encouraging curiosity and a love of learning. Enjoy exploring new stuff together.
Very working class background- 4 dc all went to uni. We were taught to love learning.

clogdance Sat 29-Apr-17 23:09:56

We have little money but have sent the children on foreign language exchanges abroad. This is a very cheap way for them to experience foreign cultures, learn foreign languages quickly and easily, and develop flexibility, resilience, independence etc as they travel abroad on their own and learn to live in other people's families.

Viewofhedges Sat 29-Apr-17 23:12:24

I am the first generation in my family to go to uni and I am now a uni lecturer. All the above posters are right. Getting them reading (so that they instinctively know what sounds right when they write) and encouraging critical thinking is everything. The fact that you want to support their learning is more than half the battle. Don't get discouraged - take them to the library instead!

ilikespaghetti Sat 29-Apr-17 23:12:34

Great replies, thank dc are young 4 &3 but we do library visits twice a week, attend the rhyme time & take out lots of books on every visit, we also buy quite a bit from the book people & the local thrift shop is excellent for books & jigsaws.
We do have a bit of extra money for trips & activities & dc1 does drama, dance & music, dc2 does dance & we like to travel. However the nursery & preschool they attend is quite affluent & tbh I find some of the mums quite intimidating, high powered jobs, lots of boasting about their dcs etc... Mine are just as good though but I don't feel the need to boast, I try my best with my dc & it's all I can do no need to tell the world but I still feel a bit inferior hence my post...

Penhacked Sat 29-Apr-17 23:14:31

The fact that you are reading that board says you are an outlier and will defy the 'norm'. People who don't go to university on the whole don't see the value in going to university. People who don't read books, don't instil a love of books in their children. All you have to do is remember children copy their parents, so as long as you are role modelling that you love to read with them, you love to talk about interesting things and go to interesting places, they will follow that lead.

Somerville Sat 29-Apr-17 23:14:56

Doesn't sound like you have anything at all to feel inferior about. smile

Remember that when people boast it is often motivated by insecurity!

edengarden123 Sat 29-Apr-17 23:15:07


I hear of the 30 million word gap study on a This American Life podcast. It was fascinating.

ActuallyThatsSUPREMECommander Sat 29-Apr-17 23:16:16

Of course you can do it. Talk, read, talk, read, stay engaged. These large gaps in attainment due to income are not an inevitable fact of life, if you look at all the ethnic groups apart from White British the gaps due to income is far smaller and the poor kids from minority backgrounds are doing much better. I'm not going to try to explain why that is, but it proves that its not inevitable.

Whereabouts are you living? North? South? London? Rural? That does make a difference but again it is possible to buck the trends.

springflowers11 Sat 29-Apr-17 23:48:59

Well neither DH or I have degrees, both would class ourselves as working class and our kids have been 100% state educated with no tutoring.Eldest one is in first year of reading maths at Cambridge.He is no maths prodigy and was not even in the top set for maths
Never underestimate the power of a child's determination to succeed .We did pick school very carefully -lot of travelling to primary and moving house to grammar catchment make sure he had bright and aspirational peers

PettsWoodParadise Sat 29-Apr-17 23:52:35

My father left school at 14. He encouraged me to be curious, love reading, know that books were power, know that maths could be used in real life. So many things. I can't thank him enough. We didn't have the money to buy books but went to library every week and in the summer holidays sometimes every day. He would ask me about the best bits of the books. When we talked about careers we would research them in the library. He would tell me about children who didn't have the opportunity to learn and it helped me realise I was lucky. He didn't lay it on thick, he had a way with words and made it clear it was my responsibility to make the most of what school opportunities I had - with his full support where possible. When I was little he would read to me every night. He would make up his own stories. He didn't know what my future held but when I failed the eleven plus he thought that was the end of university ideas but when it became clear I could go and it would actually suit me very much he backed me to hilt. He bought me a copy of the Compact OED (equivalent to 20 volumes but in small, very small print) as I said every third word in the lectures was indecipherable and encouraged me to teach him new words. He wasn't embarrassed to be learning. He was delighted at it. I think if we are all open to learning throughout our lives it can only serve as an example as well as fulfill ourselves and our children. Sorry for the sentimental message but I think it relevant to the original question.

scaryclown Sat 29-Apr-17 23:57:45

Well as someone from a very old middle class background, who has a genius level IQ, who went to uni, yet is currently pretty much unemployed, i would say the deal isn't quite as you think.

HarrietVane99 Sun 30-Apr-17 00:02:02

Yes, I think aspiration is a key factor. Making children and young people aware that there is a world out there, and opportunities out there, beyond what they know. Whether they learn this through reading, both fiction and nonfiction, or visiting different places, or hearing you and other people talk about it.

When they're old enough, I think social skills and life skills are important too - good table manners, being able to make conversation (good general knowledge comes in useful here), good telephone manner, being able to use public transport confidently.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: