We found that 18 percent of these urban children had been separated from their parents at any point in their childhood, Jee said. This was surprising, but not unimaginable, since poverty is often linked with volatility in homes. In fact, 7 percent of these kids had been separated two or more times.
Children who have been separated at any point scored significantly worse both on the 4-point scales measuring their ability to learn new tasks and their pre-literacy skills. Of note, their expressive language and speech scores fared better they were comparable to those of their non-separated peers.
This makes intuitive sense, Jee said. In families disrupted by separation, adults are less likely to make consistent efforts to expose kids to new ideas, or to encourage reading. Without this first educational coaching from mom or dad, kids early learning and preliteracy skills are less likely to really blossom.
Thankfully, most school districts require a physical before a child enters kindergarten, she added. Pediatricians have a unique opportunity to anticipate which children might be starting their educational careers at a disadvantage, to recommend more screening for such children, and to help see that they get the interventions they need.
Jee and her colleagues do not know yet which types of separations might have the most deleterious effects on kids early learning, since the survey did not ask specific reaso
|Contact: Becky Jones|
University of Rochester Medical Center