Promoting School Readiness in the Context of Socio-Economic Adversity: Associations with Parental Demoralization and Support for Learning

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Background: Existing research suggests that parenting stress and demoralization, as well as provision of learning activities at home, significantly affect child school readiness. However, the degree to which these dimensions of parenting uniquely influence child school readiness remains unclear. Objective: This study tested the hypothesis that parent demoralization and support for learning are distinct constructs that independently influence child school readiness. Direct and indirect (mediated) models of association were examined. Methods: 117 kindergarten children with low literacy and language skills and their parents were recruited from three Northeastern school districts serving primarily low-income families. Parents reported on their own depressive symptoms, parenting difficulties, attitudes and behaviors related to learning activities, and the frequency of parent-child conversation at home. Teachers rated child school readiness, as indicated by classroom behaviors, approaches to learning, and emergent language and literacy skills. Results: In a factor analysis, parent demoralization and support for learning emerged as distinct constructs. Structural equation models revealed that parent demoralization was negatively associated with child school readiness, whereas parent support for learning was positively associated with child school readiness. Neither parenting construct mediated the effect of the other. Conclusions: Among low-income families with children at high risk for school difficulties, parental demoralization and support of learning opportunities at home appear to independently influence child school readiness. Thus, parent-based interventions targeting child school readiness would likely benefit from enhancing both parental self-efficacy and provision of learning activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-371
Number of pages19
JournalChild and Youth Care Forum
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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