Saturday, January 9, 2010

Ethnicity and Kids’ Cognitive Development --- Where are the Fathers?

Sister Edith Bogue, a Professor of Sociology at the College of St Scholastica in Duluth, a second vocation Benedictine nun, has posted the following interesting blog post on early education in children. But she wonders why fathers weren't considered in the study.

Micere Keels of the University of Chicago presented early results of her research on the ethnicity-related gap in children’s cognitive development. Her study was sparked by two facts: when tested up to about 8 months of age, kids of all major ethnic groups have similar levels of cognitive development. When those kids enter kindergarten, a gap has opened up. When, she asked, did the groups diverge – and why?

Her data included measures at 8, 24, 36, and 48 months. Children were classified according to the ethnicity of their mother; the analysis further compared children of native-born (USA) mothers with immigrant parents. (All children were born in the US.) African-American children with a foreign-born mother showed higher levels of cognitive development than African-American kids with a native born mother; the reverse pattern was true for Hispanic families.

Her research showed that some of the gaps in kids’ cognitive development between ethnic groups is explained by differences in relative resources and mother’s education; a bit more is explained by “supportive parenting” – except in Asian families. . . .

. . .It’s troubling as an example of the ease at which fathers disappear in family studies. In view Sarah McClanahan’s many studies showing better outcomes for children with both biological parents in the home – even when education, income, and ethnic effects have been controlled – I would expect variables about the father, and the mother-father structure to be considered. The ethnic groups where kids had higher levels of cognitive development were those with a higher percentage of married parents. . . . [more] Monastic Musings

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