Parent/caregiver involvement in activities with children and child language, school readiness, and social-emotional outcomes in a high quality early learning program
Background: While there is evidence that suggests parent/caregiver involvement in activities with children can narrow the academic achievement gap for school-aged children across socioeconomic lines, there is much less research on this topic for early childhood. Methods: The objectives of this study were to: (1) Measure the association between parent/caregiver involvement and child vocabulary, language, school readiness, and social-emotional outcomes; and (2): measure the association between parent/caregiver involvement and length of time in the program. This was a cross-sectional study using data from the Educare Implementation Study (N=2469), which follows children (0-5 years of age) and families in Educare, a high-quality early learning program. Controlling for various covariates, we estimated the mean difference and 95% confidence intervals in outcome scores among different parent/caregiver involvement levels using multiple linear regression. Results: Compared to a baseline of “3-5 times” engagement in a particular activity in the past week, higher levels of parent/caregiver involvement in activities with children was generally associated with higher outcome scores though only certain activities were significantly associated when considering each type of activity. Certain activities had a threshold effect while others showed a more gradient-based relationship. Reading and items related to talking, regardless of content were significantly associated with higher scores across all outcomes. For social-emotional protective factors, items indicative of parent-child relationship, such as singing and doing arts and crafts were also shown to be important, though all had a threshold-based relationship where no involvement at all was associated with significantly lower scores. Compared to a baseline of 2 years, less time in the program was significantly associated with lower average parent/caregiver involvement: 1 year or less (-0.17: 95% CI: -0.26, -0.08) and 2 years or less (-0.10; 95% CI: -0.18, -0.02). Conclusions: Particular parent/caregiver involvement activities were associated with better child outcomes. These data suggest that parent/caregiver involvement has potential to narrow the achievement gap even beyond participation in a high early learning program and the length of time in a high-quality early learning program may impact parent involvement.
- Health services