To test a model of early childhood development that incorporates developmental and cultural concepts to examine the family context, the school context, and the intersection of the two as predictors of the academic and behavioral functioning of Latino children. Rationale: It has become increasingly clear that the development of Latino children, as an ethnic minority population, cannot be fully understood without proper consideration for the unique ecological contexts within which they function. Unfortunately, empirical studies of cultural variables of theoretical importance for Latino child development have been limited. Family and school contextual factors arguably represent the most proximal predictors of young children's development, and the study of families in schools (i.e., the intersection of family and school) has great potential to elucidate the ways in which contextual factors interact to influence early development.
Aims : This study has three primary aims with Mexican (MA) and Dominican (DR) children: 1) To examine the family and school contexts of children in relation to behavior problems and school readiness during the first year of formal schooling (i.e., at school entry);2) To examine the family and school contexts of children at school entry as predictors of later developmental competencies;3) To examine change in how families interact in schools as predictors of developmental competencies. Cultural family characteristics will be examined, in an exploratory fashion, as moderators of the link between school contexts and developmental competencies. Design: This theoretically- guided and culturally-informed study will test an integrative model through a longitudinal study with 900 MA and DR families during early childhood, as children embark on their formal educational experience as Pre- Kindergarten and Kindergarten students in 30 large, urban public elementary schools. The study will use a multi-informant, multi-method assessment approach to examine the family and school contexts of children in relation to behavior problems and school readiness at school entry and over time (i.e., 3 years). Significance: The high prevalence of academic failure and behavior problems experienced by Latinos has been well documented. This study has great potential to enhance our understanding of the developmental pathways to important educational and mental health outcomes among Latino children. Findings from the study will serve to inform future family and school intervention efforts for this vulnerable population. At the same time, the study will explore strengths of the Latino culture to identify protective processes that may mitigate the risk of academic and behavior problems among Latino children.

Public Health Relevance

Studies have documented the high prevalence of academic failure and behavior problems experienced by Latinos. Considering the public health cost and implications associated with low levels of educational attainment and antisocial behavior in adolescents and adults, research is needed to inform understanding of the developmental trajectories of Latino children's academic and behavioral functioning. The current proposal with young Latino children has great potential to address critical educational and mental health issues and to inform future family and school intervention efforts for this vulnerable population.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Psychosocial Development, Risk and Prevention Study Section (PDRP)
Program Officer
Griffin, James
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New York University
Schools of Medicine
New York
United States
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Kim, Yeonwoo; Calzada, Esther J (2018) Skin color and academic achievement in young, Latino children: Impacts across gender and ethnic group. Cultur Divers Ethnic Minor Psychol :
Serrano-Villar, Maria; Huang, Keng-Yen; Calzada, Esther J (2017) Social Support, Parenting, and Social Emotional Development in Young Mexican and Dominican American Children. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev 48:597-609
Calzada, Esther; Barajas-Gonzalez, R Gabriela; Huang, Keng-Yen et al. (2017) Early Childhood Internalizing Problems in Mexican- and Dominican-Origin Children: The Role of Cultural Socialization and Parenting Practices. J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol 46:551-562
Serrano-Villar, Maria; Calzada, Esther J (2016) Ethnic identity: Evidence of protective effects for young, Latino children. J Appl Dev Psychol 42:21-30
Calzada, Esther J; Huang, Keng-Yen; Hernandez, Miguel et al. (2015) Family and Teacher Characteristics as Predictors of Parent Involvement in Education During Early Childhood Among Afro-Caribbean and Latino Immigrant Families. Urban Educ (Beverly Hills Calif) 50:870-896
Calzada, Esther J; Huang, Keng-Yen; Linares-Torres, Heliana et al. (2014) Maternal Familismo and early childhood functioning in Mexican and Dominican immigrant families. J Lat Psychol 2:156-171
Calzada, Esther J; Huang, Keng-Yen; Anicama, Catherine et al. (2012) Test of a cultural framework of parenting with Latino families of young children. Cultur Divers Ethnic Minor Psychol 18:285-96