Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Rich Home Environment Can Close Readiness Gap for Poor Children

This from Ed Week:
Educators looking to eliminate the school readiness gap for children in poverty can look to how parents play with and encourage their youngest children, according to a study published in an online preview this month in Child Development.

By the age of 2, differences in a low-income child's home-learning environment can make the difference between whether he or she will be considered ready for school or labeled at risk at the start of kindergarten two years later.

New York University researchers Eileen Rodriguez Bandel and Catherine S. Tamis-LeMonda studied 1,852 children whose families participated at 17 sites where the federal Early Head Start Evaluation Study was taking place. Only about half the families received services through the program, which provides educational training and support for parents in poverty. The researchers analyzed the home environments, including tapes of mother-child interactions, parent surveys, and videos of the home, around the children's first, second, and third birthdays and again at age 5, just before they started kindergarten.

At each age, Ms. Bandel and Ms. Tamis-LeMonda looked at three measures of the home environment which had been previously associated with later school readiness: literacy activities, such as the frequency at which parents and toddlers read books, told stories, and sang nursery rhymes together; maternal engagement, including how well mothers responded to their child's needs and cues and tried to stimulate the child's cognitive and language development; and the availability of educational toys, such as books, role-playing toys like dolls and stuffed animals, musical instruments, blocks, and art supplies. Those areas were coded and combined into a single composite measure of home enrichment...

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