The Primary Early Care and Education Arrangements and Achievement at Kindergarten Entry


Children participate in different types of
early care and education settings the year before they start kindergarten. These experiences can help young children
build the knowledge and skills needed for kindergarten and elementary school. A recent report by NCES explores relationships
between children’s main care arrangement before kindergarten and their academic
skills at kindergarten entry. In this study, children were grouped into five categories
based upon their main care arrangement, which was the setting in which they spent
the most time on a regular basis. The first group, parent care only, included children who
mainly received care only from their parents. The other groups were: center-based care;
home-based relative care; home-based nonrelative care; and multiple arrangements for children who spent an
equal amount of time in two or more types of care. The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study,
Kindergarten Class of 2010–11 collects information from parents and teachers
in kindergarten through fifth grade, and includes assessments of children’s skills. Parents reported on their child’s care arrangements
the year before kindergarten. Twenty-one percent of children who were first-time
kindergartners in the fall of 2010 received care only from their parents on a regular
basis the year before kindergarten. In comparison, 55 percent were
mainly in center-based care, 15 percent were in home-based relative care, 6 percent were in home-based nonrelative care, and 3 percent were in multiple arrangements
for equal amounts of time. Main care arrangements the year before kindergarten varied by characteristics of
children and their families. For example, the percentages of Hispanic and
Pacific Islander children who were mainly in center-based care were lower than the percentages
of children from other racial/ethnic groups. Another characteristic of interest is children’s
household socioeconomic status, or SES, which was based on their parents’ education levels,
occupations, and the household income. It was more common for children from low-SES households than for those from higher-SES households to receive care only from their parents
the year before kindergarten. In contrast, it was more common for
children from high-SES households than those from lower-SES households to attend
center-based care as their main arrangement. It is also possible to explore whether children’s
reading and math skills at kindergarten entry were related to their main care and education
arrangement the year before. The kindergarten reading assessment
measured basic skills like letter recognition, rhyming words, and vocabulary. The math assessment measured concepts
like numbers, shapes, patterns, and basic addition and subtraction. In 2010, children who had only received care from
their parents the year before kindergarten, and those who had been mainly
in home-based relative care, scored lower in reading at kindergarten entry than their
peers who had mainly attended center-based care. There were also differences in math scores in relation
to children’s main care arrangement. Kindergartners who had only received care from their parents the year before kindergarten, and those who mainly received
home-based relative care scored lower at kindergarten entry than their peers who had mainly received center-based care
or home-based nonrelative care. In both reading and mathematics,
these patterns persisted after taking into account children’s
socioeconomic status and race/ethnicity. Visit nces.ed.gov to learn more and view the full report on Primary Early Care and Education Arrangements
and Achievement at Kindergarten Entry.

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