Kathryn, one of the children participating in Curry School professor
Robert Pianta's study of child development, works on a questionnaire
about playmates with recent U.Va. graduate Sarah Antos, a lab
Allows U.Va. Curry School to Continue Study of Children as Part
of Large-Scale National Effort
22, 2000 -- The University of Virginia's Curry
School of Education has received significant federal funding
to continue its participation in the nation's largest long-term
study investigating children's development.
National Institute of Child Health and Development has awarded the
Curry School more than $2.5 million over the next five years to
continue its study of children in approximately 120 local families
who have been followed since birth. The funding, which began in
January, allows the researchers to pursue the study of the children
through sixth grade.
investigation began in 1991 to determine the effects of child care
experiences on young children from birth to age 7. The study, which
is following more than 1,100 children nationwide at 10 sites, has
examined a wide variety of issues related to young children's needs,
including anxiety over separating from parents, effects of day care,
and factors influencing school success in the early grades.
new funding allows researchers to expand the long-term project to
investigate the numerous factors that influence child development
in elementary school and through early adolescence. They will focus
on gathering data on third- and fifth-grade students and their parents
through home visits, school observations, laboratory interactions,
phone interviews with children and parents, and questionnaires with
teachers in second through fifth grades.
observing children in their third- and fifth-grade classrooms, the
study will provide an unprecedented snapshot of elementary schools
across the country," said principal investigator Robert C.
Pianta, professor in U.Va.'s Curry School.
are studying all factors related to child development, including
pubertal development. The information we gain should be important
in understanding children as they begin adolescence," he said.
study will examine children's academic, social and psychological
development by studying multiple factors influencing their environment,
including parents' work, the home and family, the neighborhood
and community, school and out-of school settings, and socio-economic
and cultural backgrounds.
research will focus on three principal areas of child development:
achievement and cognition, social and emotional growth, and health.
funding allows us to examine several major factors influencing children
in third and fifth grades -- a major transition period in which
peers begin to play major roles in children's lives,"
grant allows us to broaden the study to look at children's
physical activity and health -- an important new area of investigation
for us because of the possible correlation between physical activity
and self-esteem," he said.
an effort to better understand how development may differ in boys
and girls, the researchers will also investigate gender differences.
this study Pianta hopes to learn more in four new areas: the interplay
between children's early and current experiences; the extent
to which social, cultural and economic differences influence children's
development; the ways in which family and peer experiences contribute
to children's risk-taking and resilience; and the relationships
between parents' work and family life and the well-being of
parents and their children.
our previous work, family factors accounted for the highest proportion
of differences among children. It will be interesting to see if
that finding holds or if peers and schools begin to play a more
prominent role," Pianta said.
the nine years since the study began, the findings of the Charlottesville-area
families have been consistent with those at the other research sites.
Among the findings so far: high quality, stimulating child care
is related to slightly higher performance on young children's
cognitive and language measures. Children in care for more than
10 hours per week performed better on cognitive and language measures
when the quality of the caregiver-child interaction was taken into
account. The higher the quality of child care in the first three
years of life, the greater the child's language abilities are
at 15, 24 and 36 months.
an analysis of the regulatory factors pertaining to child care,
such as child-teacher ratio and caregiver training, the researchers
found that the quality of child care is higher when child care settings
meet larger numbers of higher standards.
research shows that state regulations play a major role in supporting
high-quality day care," Pianta said.
addition to directing this study, Pianta is also leading the U.Va.
site in the federally funded National Center for Early Development
and Learning. That study is investigating the processes related
to children's successful transitions into the early grades.
more information, Pianta can be reached at (804) 243-5483 or via
Ida Lee Wootten, (804) 924-6857