Researchers focus on aspects of school readiness, including social and language development, along with other data such as hours in care, so as to better understand the ways in which a child's growth is influenced by situational factors.
Young children are spending increasingly greater hours in early care and education. While research has clearly documented the importance of the quality of these experiences (National Research Council, 2000), more research is needed in several key areas.
This study investigates the relation between the characteristics of early care and education (in both infant and preschool classrooms) and children’s school readiness, and the impact of the hours of center-based care on the school readiness skills of children. It includes two samples: one sample of 236 children followed since infancy (Family Income, Infant Child Care, and Child Development), and a second sample of 160 low-income children recruited during the preschool year before kindergarten.
We are employing a developmental-ecological conceptual framework, which considers the influence of ecological contexts on children’s developmental trajectories. We will assess five domains of school readiness: health and physical development; social and emotional development; approaches to learning; language development and communication; and cognition and general knowledge. Rigorous scientific analyses will identify interactions among early care and education characteristics, hours in care, and family and child characteristics (race/ethnicity, income, child gender) in predicting children’s school readiness.
This study will yield findings useful to decision makers in crafting effective child care policies and strategies, in particular about the impact of varying hours of early care and education on children’s school readiness, and the specific factors in both infant and preschool classrooms that promote children’s school readiness.