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Example Research Questions

The ECLS-B was designed to address a variety of research questions, including the ones listed by topic area below. Many of the questions were designed to apply to the entire span of the study (i.e., from infancy through kindergarten), although some reference age-specific constructs.

Children’s Growth and Development

  • What are children’s competencies in the cognitive, socioemotional, language, and physical domains? What are the levels and rates of growth in these domains from infancy through kindergarten? How do these levels and rates of growth vary for different groups of children? What characteristics of children, their families, and their early care and early education experiences are associated with different levels and rates of growth?

Children’s Transitions to and Participation in Nonparental Child Care, Early Education Programs, and School

  • When do parents decide to place their children in nonparental care and education arrangements? What factors are important to parents when selecting an early care and education arrangement for their children? Do parents feel there are good choices for such arrangements where they live?
  • What are the characteristics and quality of the nonparental care and education arrangements that children have? How stable are these arrangements? How do different types of care and early education arrangements, availability of the arrangements, and the demands placed on parents to balance work and home life relate to children’s growth, development, health, and family well-being?
  • What are the early child care experiences of children living in low-income families who may be eligible for Head Start?
  • How do differences in care and early education arrangements relate to child development and later school achievement? How do the characteristics of the arrangements – including organization, sponsorship, and quality – relate to how well children with varying backgrounds and needs are prepared for school? How do outcome measures associated with participation vary by characteristics such as race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and other child and family characteristics? How do the characteristics of the arrangements interact with the characteristics of children and their families in relation to children’s social and cognitive development?
  • How continuous is the nonparental care and education children receive? How consistent are the characteristics of the different settings in which a child receives nonparental care and education? Are frequent changes in child care and early education programs associated with cognitive and socioemotional development?
  • Which children enter kindergarten the year they qualify according to age, and which children experience delayed entry? How do children from the same age cohort who entered kindergarten a year later than the rest of the cohort differ from those who entered “on time”? Do delayed-entry children perform similarly in kindergarten compared to their peers who entered kindergarten on time? How do children who repeat kindergarten compare to peers?
  • How do children with varying backagrounds make the transition to formal education at kindergarten? How are these differences related to academic and social success?

School Readiness

  • What literacy, language, mathematical, social, and motor skills do children exhibit as preschoolers and kindergartners, and how do these skills vary by demographic characteristics such as race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and family structure? How do these characteristics differ among children repeating kindergarten, those entering on time, and those with delayed entry?
  • What characteristics of children, their families, and their early care and educational experiences correlate with children’s preschool skills and behaviors, and readiness for school? What characteristics show the strongest associations with the attainment of school readiness skills and behaviors?
  • How do the characteristics of parents, families, and early care and education arrangements during the preschool years relate to differences in skills at kindergarten entry? In what ways do parental cognitive stimulation and emotional nurturance covary with readiness for school?
  • What role do fathers play in early child rearing, and how does their involvement with their children and the family relate to children’s development? What role do resident fathers play? What contributions do fathers make to children’s development and preparation for schooling that are independent of mothers’ contributions?
  • How do the characteristics of classrooms (e.g., curriculum, practices) relate to children’s development during kindergarten and interact with their previous experiences in nonparental care and education?
  • How do schools facilitate the transition into kindergarten? What is the relationship of this transition to children’s success in school? How do parents prepare for this transition?

Children’s Health Status

  • How prevalent are disabilities and illnesses among young children? How prevalent is obesity among young children?
  • How are children’s early health care and health status, including disabilities and injuries, related to their preparedness for formal school?
  • What aspects of child health and parent health relate to children’s growth and development?
  • What is the relationship between different early child and family medical histories and children’s development and school readiness? What is the relationship between different health care practices and children’s development and school readiness? Is there an association between health insurance coverage and children’s health and well-being? Is there an association between access to health care and children’s health and well-being?
  • What groups of children have more developmental difficulties and how does family involvement in early intervention, early childhood education programs, and health promotion and prevention programs relate to rates of growth and development for more vulnerable children? How do these children fare when they enter formal schooling as compared to their peers? In what kinds of educational programs are these more vulnerable children enrolled when they enter school?
  • What kinds of school programs are available for children with health and developmental disabilities?