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October 16, 2012
By Jason Ching
Lydia DeFlorio is an assistant professor of human development and family studies with an emphasis in families and child development. She began teaching at the University in fall of 2012.
Research has shown that children from low-income households enter kindergarten with significantly lower math skills compared to children from middle-income households. This "gap" is present among children as early as age 3 and widens throughout preschool and elementary school. My research has asked questions like, "How did that gap originate?" and "What can we do about it?"
Adding to the complexity of the research, while this gap exists internationally, it disappears in countries such as China and Japan after students go through preschool.
Ultimately, I want to learn how we can better prepare low-income children for success in kindergarten-and I don't know that intervention always needs to be limited to the classroom. Empowering parents is critical!
While conducting research with WestEd, I supervised research assistants and that was probably my favorite part of the job-teaching them about early childhood education and development, helping them choose a graduate school, writing reference letters for them and mentoring them. I realized that I really needed to be teaching in addition to researching.
Tovah Goodman contributed to this story.