Low-Income Children's School Readiness: Parent Contributions Over the First Five Years

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Early Education and Development






Taylor and Francis

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Early development is likely influenced by quality of early parenting and improvements or declines in quality over time. Little is known about how changes in different dimensions of parenting influence child outcomes, nor the relative sizes of associations when considering several aspects simultaneously. These questions are addressed in the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project (N = 1273). Assessments occurred when children were 1, 2, 3, and 5 years old. Parent supportiveness (videotaped play interactions), home learning environment (observed), and depressive symptoms and parenting stress (self-report) were assessed. Children's school readiness at age 5 was assessed via receptive vocabulary, letter–word knowledge, observed emotion regulation, approaches toward learning, and behavior problems. In this low-income sample, early parenting as well as change over time predicted school readiness. Associations mostly followed predictions from the family stress model and cognitive stimulation models; learning environment and maternal supportiveness were most strongly associated with child vocabulary and letter–word knowledge, although supportiveness was also linked with observed emotion regulation, and learning environment early on was also linked with emotion regulation, and early learning environment was also linked with emotion regulation, and early learning environment was also linked with behavior problems and approaches toward learning. Depressive symptoms and parenting stress were more strongly associated with behavior problems, although early parenting stress was also associated with approaches toward learning and emotion regulation.


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