September 20, 2010

Better Babysitter = Better Behavior

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- More than 12 million U.S. children under the age of six attend child care or preschool. A new study shows that children in high-quality preschool settings had fewer behavior problems in middle childhood, and that these settings particularly benefitted boys and African American children.

"This study adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting the need for policy and programmatic efforts to increase low-income families' access to high-quality early care and education," Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, who led the study, was quoted as saying.

The researchers studied 350 children from low-income families from Boston, Chicago and San Antonio, Texas when they were preschoolers, or between the ages of 2 and 4, and then studied them again in middle childhood, about 7-11. The children in the study were put in normal childcare provided by their communities such as, Head Start and home childcare programs.

Children who went to more responsive, stimulating, and well-structured settings during preschool had fewer externalizing behavior problems (such as being aggressive and breaking rules) in middle childhood, according to the study. In addition, the study found that these upgraded settings are particularly helpful to boys and African Americans. These groups showed extensive response to the added support, discipline, and stimulating environment.
"Beyond a few model early intervention programs and a handful of short-term longitudinal studies, our knowledge is limited concerning the implications of child care experiences for low-income children's later development," notes Votruba-Drzal. "This study strengthens our understanding of how the varying quality of child care experiences available to children in low-income families shapes children's development into middle childhood."

SOURCE:  Child Development, published online September 19, 2010