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Citation:Christian, K., Morrison, F. J., & Bryant, F. B. (1998). Predicting kindergarten academic skills: Interactions among child care, maternal education, and family literacy environments. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 13(3), 501-521.

The purpose of this study is to examine sources of childrenÕs academic skills upon entrance into kindergarten. The study hypothesized that the family literacy environment was a predictor of childrenÕs reading, general information, letter recognition, and vocabulary scores at the start of kindergarten; that the impact of child care on academic skills would vary as a function of maternal education (with children from less educated mothers showing greater gains); and that amount of child care, family literacy environment, and maternal education could predict academic skills. Results indicated that family literacy environment emerged as a predictor of academic skills. Lower family literacy environments were at greater risk for poor academic skills upon entrance to kindergarten. High literacy environments among families whose mothers had less education placed children at a higher level of academic ability than children of mothers with formal education but who focused less on literacy at home. Months in child care predicted letter recognition skills among all children and mathematics skills of children from families of less educated mothers and relatively poor literacy environments. The study used data from 317 children enrolled in kindergarten in Greensboro, NC. Several instruments were used to collect demographic data, child IQ, total months in child care, maternal education, receptive vocabulary, reading and letter recognition, mathematics knowledge, and parentsÕ literacy-promoting behaviors. Since efforts to develop early academic skills are most effective when parents are involved in providing literacy-promoting experiences, educators may use the findings to guide suggestions for parents in practicing strategies that have been found to improve literacy at developmentally appropriate levels. Furthermore, results support the use of funds for low-cost child care, since community-based child care may serve as a protective buffer in the lives of socioeconomically disadvantaged children. One possible flaw in the study was that it relied on retrospective self-report to assess number of months in child care.

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