Dear Editor: In the article “Study finds Wisconsin’s low-income, minority fourth-graders trailing in reading proficiency,” Bob Jacobson had it right when he pointed to quality early education as the answer. By fourth grade, a child has had nine to 10 years of cumulative experiences that have sent them barreling down the path of proficiency or inching down it, creating the horrific disparities we see today.

So let’s roll back eight or nine years. The research of Dr. Anne Fernald, a Stanford professor, has demonstrated that this gap begins early on, with our little ones just 18 to 24 months old already showing socioeconomic-based differences in their language processing skills and the expanse of their vocabularies.

This means we have to invest early. We have to ensure that every child has access to quality early education. We have to ensure that every family has the resources to support their children in ways that perhaps they did not experience themselves. Why? Because early experiences nourish and wire the brain, setting in motion a trajectory for life. We can make that trajectory a successful one if we engage early.

Jill Hoiting

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Supporting Families Together Association

Madison