Low-income Mexican-American babies are just as healthy as white babies, a Berkeley study finds. But Latino toddlers fall behind in language and cognitive skills by the age of two or three.
Basic cognition proficiencies for infants at 9 to 15 months of age – such as comprehending their mother’s speech and beginning to use their own words and gestures -were found to be statistically equal between Latino and white children, said Fuller. But by 24- to 36-months of age, Mexican-American toddlers lag their white counterparts by up to a half-year in terms of word comprehension, speaking with varying complexity and working with their mothers on simple learning tasks as assessed in English or Spanish, the researchers found.
The Latino mothers had much less education than the white mothers in the study.
. . . “The great majority of young Latino children benefit from two warm and caring parents at home,” (Education Professor Bruce) Fuller said. “But the reading activities, educational games, and performing the ABCs for Grandma, so often witnessed in middle-class homes, are less consistently seen in poor Latino households.”
I’d love to see a Sesame Street-type show aimed at mothers and aired in both Spanish and English. Parents who haven’t grown up with books and learning games need models.