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Theses Doctoral

School Readiness among Young Children of Asian and Hispanic Immigrant Mothers

Lee, RaeHyuck

More than one in four children under age 6 in the United State are children of immigrants, and the majority of these children are Asian and Hispanic. Despite this, there have been few studies on the early development of young children of immigrants. In particular, although healthy development in the early years of life is important in helping children get ready for school, little is known about school readiness among children in immigrant families. Therefore, this study examines school readiness among children of Asian and Hispanic immigrant mothers, with particular attention to two important characteristics of immigrant families: maternal language use and use of preschool.
This study is composed of five chapters, starting with Chapter 1 that introduces the background and purpose of this study. Chapter 2 reviews the theoretical backgrounds for the association between maternal language use and the development of young children in immigrant families, and then for the role of preschool in children's school readiness. Using a nationally representative sample of children of Asian and Hispanic immigrant mothers from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (ECLS-B), Chapters 3 and 4 examine whether maternal language use is associated with school readiness and whether preschool plays a protective role in promoting school readiness, respectively. Finally, Chapter 5 concludes by summarizing the findings and providing implications for theory and methodology, future research, and social work and policy.
In Chapter 3, this study finds generally advantages of maternal use of English and bilingualism for children's cognitive development at kindergarten entry in both Asian and Hispanic groups. It also finds, compared to children of home language Asian mothers, higher levels of pro-social behavior among those of English dominant and bilingual Asian mothers, but also higher levels of behavior problems among those of English dominant Asian mothers. Furthermore, in additional analyses, this study finds that longer residency in the U.S. is associated with higher levels of approaches to learning for children of bilingual Asian mothers and lower levels of behavior problems for children of bilingual Hispanic mothers.
In Chapter 4, this study finds that attending preschool (mostly prekindergarten or other center-based care) is associated with better academic school readiness at kindergarten entry among children of Asian immigrant mothers, but not children of Hispanic immigrant mothers. This study also finds higher levels of behavior problems and lower levels of approaches to learning among children in Head Start compared to those in parental care in both Asian and Hispanic groups. In addition, this study finds beneficial associations between preschool and academic school readiness at the year of participation among children of both Asian and Hispanic immigrant mothers, but these beneficial associations do not hold up at kindergarten entry among children of Hispanic mothers, while such associations are still found at kindergarten entry among children of Asian mothers. This study also finds more pronounced beneficial influences of preschool on academic school readiness at the year of participation among children of mothers who speak their home language in both Asian and Hispanic groups, but such more pronounced benefits are gone at kindergarten entry in both groups.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Social Work
Thesis Advisors
Waldfogel, Jane
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
August 15, 2014
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