Latino children may tend to begin preschool with a smaller vocabulary than white children, but some researchers say that doesn’t necessarily mean they lack social and emotional skills.
Part of that could possibly be traced back to the often warm and nurturing home environments that they come from. NPR reporter Claudio Sanchez recently reported on a University of California, Berkeley, and UCLA study that examined 4,700 Latino children when they were between the ages of two and five years old.
“We found that Latino kids bring to school strong emotional skills and strong social skills, which means they know how to share with their peers,” said Claudia Galindo, a sociologist at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, about the report‘s findings. “They know how to follow instructions. They know how to listen. And one other thing that we found is that these kids are being raised in very supportive and warm family environments.”
Bruce Fuller, one of the authors and an education professor at the University of California, Berkeley, said that it’s a mistake to view Latino children as slow or deficient. Education policy-makers mistakenly believe that the issue is “we need to fix the parenting skills,” he told NPR
In a commentary piece in The Next America written by study authors Fuller, Galindo and Alma Guerrero, the three described the childrens’ strengths. They observed that Mexican-American kindergartners “display robust cooperative skills, respect adults, and eagerly participate in classroom tasks, whether their behavior is judged by parents or teachers.”
Despite the parents’ nurturing skills, the children lagged. The researchers noted that Mexican mothers did not read as often to their children, which held back the children’s language and cognitive skills.