BETHESDA, Md. (Ivanhoe Newswire)—Have you ever watched a toddler’s face and seen the “wheels turning?” Young children soak in everything going on around them. That cognitive stimulation through conversations and books and music is critical to development. Now, social scientists are studying kids’ environment and their caregivers to see what difference the adults have on kids’ early academic skills.
This is not just a playground. It’s a place where kids learn language, directions, and social skills. But who leads the charge when it comes to playful learning?
And what role does childcare have in early cognitive and academic skills? Natasha Cabrera is a child development specialist at the University of Maryland. She studied the influence of different caregivers on the academic skills of 1,650 kids from two-parent households. The kids were enrolled in childcare at 24 months. The scientists conducted parent and child assessments at ages 24, 48, and 60 months. The findings suggested that kids received the most stimulation from their childcare providers, followed by mom then dad. This is the first study to include fathers. Cabrera says dads’ activities with two-year-olds were associated with higher scores for kids’ reading and math at age four and five.
“Dads, when they’re reading a story or a book, they’re saying, ‘Hey, three more pages to go, and then you’re done. Let’s count how many dots are on the page?” explained Cabrera.
The researchers say the findings support the idea that kids benefit when multiple caregivers provide cognitive stimulation. Cabrera says with many kids at home right now, parents may want to incorporate more language and learning into daily routines.
“You know, maybe you’re reading the newspaper out loud, maybe you’re reading the comics, maybe you’re singing,” continued Cabrera.
Or maybe you’re on the playset steps counting your way to the top.
The study findings also support the theory that when parents provide higher levels of stimulation at home, children will have more of a benefit from their childcare activities.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer; Kirk Manson, Field Producer; and Roque Correa, Editor.
Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation