The years before kindergarten are the most important in shaping the foundation of a child for learning purposes (Allen & Smith, 2008). According to Evangelou, Sylva, Kyriacou, Wild, and Glenny (2009), learning in children starts at birth and takes place when they are engaged, nurtured, and/or challenged in quality learning environments and in relationships with caregivers and parents. Compared to other groups, children from minority groups (religious, gender and sexuality, age, political, regional minorities, involuntary and voluntary minorities in education) are represented in the population at a higher percentage of childhood population in the USA than their white counterparts (50,4% of the national population younger 1 year) (Evangelou et al., 2009). However, if compared to other groups, they are less likely to obtain beneficial conditions because of different factors. Consequently, they do not demonstrate expressive vocabulary skills and present lower scores in mathematics and language compared to children belonging to whites families (Allen & Duncan, 2008).
Studies have indicated that high-quality, pre-K teaching enables children from minority groups to enroll at kindergarten to succeed in school and further education (Mottely & Randall, 2009). Minority children who have access to preschool programs aimed at comprehensive development from birth up to five years are more likely to enhance their emotional, cognitive, social, and language development which is needed to guarantee their further personal growth and academic success. Consequently, there have been debates about whether the caregivers have an impact on the cognitive development of the minor children or not (Evangelou et al., 2009). In most cases, it is argued that the quality of the care provided to children at early stages directly affects their academic performance (Eldering & Leseman, 1999). Previous studies (e.g. Eldering & Leseman, 1999; Allen & Smith, 2008; Hart & Risley, 1995) tried to examine the quality of the caregiving and its possible effect on the general development of the child. There were debates about the childrens natural IQ and its impact on the final results of the study, no matter what environment was used (Evangelou et al., 2009).
Additionally, different variables and aspects such as the quality of care and the environment obviously influence the cognitive development of a child (Keenan & Evans, 2009). In other words, from the study by Mottely and Randall (2009), there was demonstrated a positive correlation between the cognitive development of minority children and the quality of caregiving despite the environment at home. Nonetheless, the researchers failed to put into consideration the environment hence it has great significance on the attitude of children towards education. Thus, despite the significance of the emotional support they receive from parents, their cognitive development is also dependent on the quality of caregiving they get. Besides, it is crucial to differentiate between caregiving and emotional support. The first one is the provision of assistance to a person who needs some help with daily activities and demands special attention to social and psychological factors when the second is empathy and compassion that are used to make a person feel comfortable. These divergences are crucial for the improved understanding of the issue. Consequently, it would be challenging to determine whether children’s cognitive development is because of their natural IQ or due to the positive home environment (Evangelou et al., 2009).
Statement of the Problem
The study will focus on the importance of quality caregiving and environment, especially during the first three years of minority children, and the impact of the same on the remaining two years and their pre-schooling. The study’s findings will provide more insight into the role of caregivers and the environment in improving the quality of learning that minority children obtain. Citing Sutterby (2012), children who have received high-quality caregiving demonstrate high cognitive development despite coming from a non-stimulating environment.
Consequently, most children develop their language and speech skills without much effort. Nonetheless, some children are so slow in developing the mentioned skills an aspect that makes them struggle with literacy and academic skills throughout their education. Hart and Risley (1995), point out that it is the first years that are important for the subsequent performance of children in their education and minority children are not an exception. Keenan and Evans (2009) examined the significance of early communication environment in the first two years of children’s lives and the impact of the same in preparing children for education. The author examined the environment characteristics whereby children learn to communicate, for example, the activities that the children undertake and the attitude of the mother towards the child and the general support they receive from other family members. He examined how the mentioned impacts on the readiness of the child to join school. The study’s findings indicated that there is a strong connection between children’s social background and their readiness for school. Consequently, the study indicated that the language development of children particularly at two years determines or predicts their performance in education. Therefore, it is important to note that children’s use, as well as understanding of language at two years, is linked to their performance in education. The mentioned makes this study of significance.
Theoretical/Conceptual Framework Overview
It is assumed that the cause of poor academic performance of children from minority groups is lack of quality care giving and poor home environment that make them lack not only resources but also opportunities. Even though late introduction of minority children to the academic system is regarded as the major cause of poor performance among this group of learners, there are other factors that come into play. This study seeks to examine whether quality of care giving and the environment affect the academic performance of minority children in school. The research examines the mentioned by asking the following research questions:
- What are the relationship between cognitive development and the quality of care giving children receive between 0-5 years?
- Does the quality of care giving children receives improve their readiness and preparedness to learn?
- What is the observable academic performance trend for children from minority groups that had quality caregivers and environment at an early age?
Allen, G., & Smith, D. (2008). Early intervention: Good parents, great kids, better citizens. London, UK: The Centre for Social Justice and the Smith Institute.
Baskas, R. S. (2011). Applying knowledge of quantitative design and analysis. Web.
Caruth, G. D. (2013). Demystifying mixed methods research design: A review of the literature. Web.
Choy, L. T. (2014). The strengths and weaknesses of research methodology: Comparison and complimentary between qualitative and quantitative approaches. IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 19(4), 99-104.
Eldering, L., & Leseman, P. (1999). Effective early education: Cross-cultural perspectives. New York, NY: Falmer Press.
Evangelou, M., Sylva, K., Kyriacou, M., Wild, M., & Glenny, G. (2009). Early years learning and development. Department for Children, Schools and families. Research report DCSGF-RR176.
Hart, B., & Risley, T. (1995). Meaningful differences in the everyday experiences of young American children. Baltimore, MD: Paul Brookes.
Keenan, T., & Evans, S. (2009). An introduction to child development. London, UK: SAGE Publications.
Mottely, J. B., & Randall, A. R. (2009). Early education. New York, NY: Nova Science Publishers.
Schoon, I., Parsons, S. Rush, R., & Law, J. (2010). Children’s language and ability and literacy development: A twenty-nine year follow-up study. Pediatrics, 126(1), 1-8. Web.
Sutterby, J. A. (2012). Early education in a global context. Bingley, UK: Emerald.