The First Decade: Play

GaborfromHungary / Morguefile

For many kids, youth  sports is a time to learn things like teamwork, goal setting, time management-skills that often prove valuable off the field and in work settings later in life. But for kids who can’t afford the fees associated with team sports or the equipment or the uniforms or the transportation to away games, these learning opportunities are few and far between. As we look this week at the growing opportunity gap between rich and poor kids in their first decade of life, we turn to Daniel Gould.

Leveling The Playing Field: Digital Games & Children

May 21, 2015
amanda tipton via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/c8fYHA

In 1983 Ronald Reagan gave a speech at Disney’s Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida extolling his new found understanding of the virtues of video games: “I recently learned something quite interesting about video games.

Clappstarr via Flickr CC

Research shows that participation in organized activities, like sports or music lessons, plays a big role in closing the opportunity gap in school, and in life. 

But with the rise of "pay to play" sports in school, and the virtual disappearance of affordable neighborhood piano lessons, there's an increasing gap in the ability of kids from poor families to participate in organized enrichment.

So, how does New Hampshire's gap look?

The Educational Benefits Of Time Spent Outdoors

May 20, 2015
Logan Shannon / NHPR

We’ve heard the claim before – low-income, urban kids aren’t provided the opportunity to spend enough time in the woods learning about the natural world in a hands-on environment.  But what if outdoor education isn’t just about where you live and what’s around – but is also a product of parenting, classroom based school standards, and an increasingly limited freedom to explore?   

Emily Corwin / NHPR

It was just over a year ago, at Keene area School District’s annual board retreat, and Deputy Superintendent Reuben Duncan was expecting the usual conversations about curriculum and finances. The teachers, he says, had something else in mind.

  In five or ten years, Duncan says, elementary school students were coming in without the skills they used to have. “They were coming in without vocabulary, without being able to interact appropriately with other kids, with hygiene issues, not being able to use the bathroom,” he recalls. “And then, there’s the aggressive behaviors.”

For some time now, agreement has seemed near-universal that there is a growing chasm between those with great wealth in this country and the rest of the population. That recognition has even bridged our otherwise entrenched political divide, with both Republicans and Democrats tackling the problem, especially on the campaign trail. But despite the recent urgency, there are differences.