Compared with white or black children, Hispanic children are less likely to be able to recognize the letters of the alphabet, count to 20 or higher, or write their names before they start kindergarten. Black children are similar to white children on these measures, but are more likely than white children to be reading words in books.
School readiness, a multi-dimensional concept,1 conveys important advantages. Children who enter school with early skills, such as a basic knowledge of math and reading, are more likely than their peers to experience later academic success,2,3 attain higher levels of education, and secure employment.4 Absence of these and other skills may contribute to even greater disparities down the road. For example, one study found that gaps in math, reading, and vocabulary skills evident at elementary school entry explained at least half of the racial gap in high school achievement scores.5
As conceptualized by the National Education Goals Panel, school readiness encompasses five dimensions: (1) physical well-being and motor development; (2) social and emotional development; (3) approaches to learning; (4) language development (including early literacy); and (5) cognition and general knowledge.6 The school readiness indicator reported on here includes four skills related to early literacy and cognitive development: a child’s ability to recognize letters, count to 20 or higher, write his or her first name, and read words in a book. While cognitive development and early literacy are important for children’s school readiness and early success in school, other areas of development, like health, social development, and engagement, may be of equal or greater importance.7,8,9 However, although experts agree that social-emotional skills are critically important for school readiness, to date there are no nationally representative data in this area.
Source: Child Trends