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Separation from mom, dad linked with learning trouble in kids
Date:5/15/2008

In the wake of divorce, illness, violence and other problems that can unsettle homes, countless young children are liable to experience temporary separations from one or both parents before packing their knapsack for kindergarten. Published in the May/June issue of Ambulatory Pediatrics, a new, community-wide study from Rochester, New York, warns that such kids are at increased risk for learning difficulties and that these separations are good predictors of which children may require special educational interventions to succeed.

Previous research on parent-child separation has concentrated on children in foster or kinship care, who are known to often experience considerable emotional, behavioral and developmental problems. Yet little is known about the impact of separation more generally, especially in less formalized situations in which one or more parents temporarily leaves.

In most cases, separation is a marker of instability. We suspect that homes in which children are separated from their parents may be less nurturing environments. Parents are less apt to be reading to their kids or taking time to teach them new skills, such as tying shoes, practicing their letters or penning their names, said Sandy Jee, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Centers Golisano Childrens Hospital, who led the study. Kindergarten can be a wet-cement year for many kids, so its important that we start their educational trajectories on the best paths possible.

The study enrolled 1,619 children between ages 4 and 6 who were entering Rochester City School District kindergarten classrooms in the fall of 2003. Parents or caregivers were asked if their child had ever been away from a parent for more than a month, and if so, if the separation occurred once, twice, or more than three times. These adults also completed the Parents Appraisal of Childrens Experiences (PACE) survey to measure their childrens develo
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Contact: Becky Jones
rebecca_jones@urmc.rochester.edu
585-275-8490
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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