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FINNUT-Forskning og innovasjon i utdanningssektoren

The role of cognitive and social stimulation in the family and in ECEC for school achievement in 1st grade

Alternative title: Betydningen av kognitiv og sosial stimulering i familien og i barnehagen for skoleprestasjoner i første klasse

Awarded: NOK 6.1 mill.

In the project "The role of cognitive and social stimulation in the family and in ECEC, for school achievement in 1st grade", we have investigated the significance of family factors, and factors in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC), for children?s language- and socioemotional development, and for school achievement. The project draws on existing data from the Behavior Outlook Norwegian Developmental Study (BONDS), at the Norwegian Center for Child Behavioral Development. The BONDS includes 1157 children and their parents, followed from 6 months of age, with frequent interviews with parents, observations of parent-child interactions, tests of the children, and questionnaires to ECEC centers and schools. In this project, we have analyzed observational data of parent-child interactions when children were 2 and 3 years of age, with an emphasis on parental sensitivity and cognitive stimulation as well as learning support that is specific to early mathematical learning. We have linked these in BONDS with standardized tests from 1st and 2nd grade, which we have uses as outcome. Results from the project cover three main areas: The first concerns family and ECEC. In an invited book chapter, we show that there is little difference in language skills between children of mothers with high- and low levels of education in ECEC centers focusing on cognitive opportunities to learn, while this difference is larger in centers without this focus (Zachrisson, Dearing, Blömeke, & Moser, 2017). We also provide a critical review of how unovserved family selection factors has biased previous research on association between ECEC qualnity and behavior problems (Dearing & Zachrisson, 2017). The second main area concerns an often neglected aspect of quality in ECEC; the importance of peers. We show that the association between mothers' education and child language skills is smaller when children attend ECEC centers where the peers have higher language skills, compared to children in centers with lower peer skills (Ribeiro, Zachrisson, & Dearing, 2017). We also show that children attending more aggressive peer groups in ECEC become more aggressive (Ribeiro & Zachrisson, 2017). The third main area concerns parent-child interaction and parenting quality. An invited book chapter reviews the litteratur on certain father-child interactions (DeGarmo, Nordahl, Fabiano, 2016). Moreover, we have five manuscripts yet to be published. The first is a psychometric article where we show that parenting quality can be well measured using observational data (Nordahl, Owen, Ribeiro, & Zachrisson). Two papers concerns how spatial stimulation from mothers and fathers (partially) promote math skills in first and second grade (Ribeiro, Casey, Dearing, Nordahl, Auligar, & Zachrisson; Casey, Ribeiro, Dearing, Nordahl, & Zachrisson ). We are also working on a meta-analysis on the same topic (Ribeiro, Augilar, & Zachrisson). Finally, we show early entry into ECEC does not affect the parenting quality with fathers or mothers (Zachrisson, Owen, Dearing, Nordahl, Ribeiro).

Det er umulig å måle effektene av dette prosjektet. Vi har, imidlertid, presentert funn fra prosjektet for embedsverk og praktikere innen både familiefeltet og barnehagefeltet. Vi forventer derfor at resultatene fra prosjektet kan ha bidratt til utvikling av politikk og praksisfeltet.

The aim of this project is to investigate: a) How early parental engagement in the development of cognitive, social, and self-regulatory skills predicts school achievement in 1st grade; b) Whether this prediction differs as a function of family socioecono mic background; c) Whether Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) protects children experiencing low parental engagement against poor school achievement. The project extends beyond previous research by addressing the role of parental engagement, as w ell as ECEC in predicting early school achievement, and in aiming at explaining the socioeconomic gradient in achievement. The current proposal takes advantage of an ongoing longitudinal study of children's development (Behavior Outlook Norwegian Develo pmental Study; BONDS) involving 1157 children and their parents, 135 child care centers, and 125 schools attended by these children. The dataset comprises frequent measures on both cognitive and social stimulation in the family (by means of observed pare nt-child interactions), in ECEC (by means of questionnaires to ECEC staff), tests of children's self-regulation, and standardized tests scores from 1st grade. All data included in the present proposal is available, except for coding of video-recorded par ent-child interactions (child ages 2 and 3). The coding of these 2000 video-recorded interactions is the primary R&D challenge. Given the project group´s experience with managing such amounts of observational data, the proposed time-line for coding is rea listic. We expect the results from this project to be of high relevance for policy-makers, practitioners, and the general public, by addressing the extent to which parents can promote their children´s school achievement through every-day activities, by understanding the compensatory role of ECEC, and by addressing one of the mechanisms potentially responsible for the socioeconomic gradient in early school achievement.

Funding scheme:

FINNUT-Forskning og innovasjon i utdanningssektoren