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5 - Reading, Rhymes, and Routines: American Parents and Their Young Children

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 July 2009

Pia Rebello Britto
Research Scientist Center for Children and Families, Teachers College, Columbia University
Allison Sidle Fuligni
Research Scientist Center for Children and Families, Teachers College, Columbia University
Jeanne Brooks-Gunn
Professor of Child Development and Education; Co-Director Center for Children and Families, Teachers College, Columbia University Institute of Child and Family Policy; Director Columbia University Institute of Child and Family Policy
Neal Halfon
University of California, Los Angeles
Kathryn Taaffe McLearn
Columbia University, New York
Mark A. Schuster
University of California, Los Angeles
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The past few years have witnessed a renewed interest in early child development. The Carnegie Corporation's Starting Points (1994) and Years of Promise (1996) reports, the creation of a National Goals Panel and the Goals 2000 legislation of 1994, and President Clinton's early childhood initiative (1997) all provide evidence of increasing awareness of the importance of early experiences. Two White House conferences have focused on early childhood development and on child care. Media attention–including an entire issue of Newsweek devoted to the early years, a prime-time television documentary on early development, and numerous television news shows, newspaper articles, and magazine pieces–have conveyed the message that what happens in children's early years is strongly associated with their school readiness, achievement, and adolescent functioning.

During the early years, children make great strides in emotional regulation and the acquisition of gross motor, fine motor, language, cognitive, and social skills. Parents and committed caregivers are the primary providers of experiences associated with those developments. For example, parents provide cognitive and linguistic experiences through activities such as looking at books, encouraging communication, and exposing children to a range of auditory and visual stimuli Bradley (1995; Snow 1993). When parents exhibit warmth through actions such as hugging and cuddling, they influence their children's development of relationships and emotional well-being Barnard and Martell (1995). Finally, through regularity and consistency in daily routines, parents provide continuity and stability, conditions thought to be important to children Boyce et al. (1983).

Child Rearing in America
Challenges Facing Parents with Young Children
, pp. 117 - 145
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2002

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