At home building blocks for academic success

Researchers at New York University followed 22,000 children of families from ethnically diverse, low-income backgrounds to study their home learning environments.They visited the homes at age 14 months, and at two, three and four years old to look at reading and storytelling activities, learning materials in the home, and the children’s interactions with their mothers. Researchers measured the kids’ skills at pre-k, and again in fifth grade.

"Those children who had positive early learning environments in fifth grade did better than your average kid from a middle-income household would," said Dr. Catherine Tamis-Lemonda, a developmental psychologist at NYU.

The findings suggest a strong early learning environment can offset stressors of poverty. Researchers say parents do not need to spend a lot of money. Borrow books, games and toys from the library. Trade kids’ books with friends or make them from an old magazine. The interaction around the activity is what counts the most.

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