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What Difference Does it Make What a Child Does Before and After School?

I'm not sure exactly when it was released, but the National Center on Educational Outcomes at the University of Minnesota has posted a "new" study on its Web site about how language-minority children spend their time before and after school and what difference it makes in how well they do in school. Language-minority children are those who come from homes where a language other than English is spoken; the researchers surveyed parents who spoke only English or Spanish. They surveyed parents or guardians of 9,583 children who participated in the 2001 administration of the National Household Education Survey Program of the National Center for Education Statistics.

If you don't have time to wade through 296 pages, skip to page 59, where the summary and conclusions begin.

The study, "Before- and After-School Care Arrangements and Activities of School-Age Language Minority Children," concludes that language-minority children spend less time in center-based care and more time being cared for by relatives than do their native-English-speaking peers. Sixteen percent of children from English-only homes, compared with 11 percent of language-minority children, are responsible for themselves before and after school. In other words, language-minority children are less likely than their native-English-speaking peers to be "latchkey" kids.

As the level of parent education increases, both language-minority and native-English-speaking children tend to participate more in what the study calls "non-program activities," such as the arts, sports, and clubs. Only 24 percent of language-minority children participate in such activities, versus 52 percent of children from homes where only English is spoken.

The researchers found a correlation for both groups of children between participation in before- and after-school care and activities and the likelihood of receiving higher grades, though the effect was weaker for language-minority children.

The researchers are Martha L. Thurlow, Kentaro Kato, and Deb Albus, from the National Center on Educational Outcomes, and Richard P. DurĂ¡n, from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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