BERKELEY (CBS SF) – A new study from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley has found Latino and white babies have the same language and cognitive abilities at nine months of age, but a significant gap exists by the time they reach age 2.
According to The Washington Post, education and social policy professor Bruce Fuller and his team studied 4,550 white and Mexican-American children. They tested the nine month olds on their ability to use and comprehend words, along with their ability to manipulate objects. When the children were two years old, the researchers tested them again, this time on memory, vocabulary and problem solving.
The researchers found 80 percent of Mexican-American toddlers grew more slowly and were three to four months behind their white peers by the time the children were two years old. Children of immigrant mothers tended to lag further behind than the children of Mexican-Americans born in the U.S.
Fuller and his team suggested reaching children and their parents long before kindergarten through home visiting programs to help close the gap. "Extending quality pre-K is one piece of the puzzle. But our new findings reveal how gaps in early language and preliteracy skills open up in toddlerhood, long before children enter preschool," Fuller told the Post.
The study is published in the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences.
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