Explosive claims about the tragic effect of poor parenting in England have been made by experts.
They have indicated that many children begin school without knowing their own first name because their parents barely speak to them at home.
Coalition "poverty tsar" Frank Field said that many children do not know their name by the age of five, while experts believed that half of youngsters arrive at infant school with poor communication skills.
Field, who has conducted a review of poverty in the UK, said children who are behind when they start school never catch up with their peers.
He blamed the situation on the low aspirations of parents trapped in poverty where no one in the family has worked for generations.
These parents do not bother to play with, talk to or read to their children.
Education experts also blamed the arrival of the Internet, which they said has contributed to a fall in verbal communication in many households.
Neil Wilson, head of Benchill Primary and the Newall Green High School in Wythenshawe, Manchester, said the damage was done by the time children were just three and that white working class children were most affected.
It is not that families cannot speak English properly, but that parents do not bother to speak to their children.
"A significant majority know their names when they come to the school but some do not. It is a communication issue at home," the Daily Mail quoted Wilson as saying.
Laura Smith of the Communication Trust, a charity studying children's language skills, said: "We know that, particularly in socially deprived parts of the country, 50 per cent of children aged four and a half and five arrive at infant school with poor communication skills.
"One of the first things a teacher says to a child starting school is: 'Go and put your coat on the hook or peg,' but many children don't know what a hook or peg are," Smith added.