Latino Boys Come from Strong Families; Lag Behind on Academics


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Researchers from the University of Maryland College of Education have recently completed a study where they examined the development and early home experiences of young Latino boys in comparison to the development of white boys and Latina girls.

“Our research focused on the early childhood experiences of Latino boys because that is such a crucial time for the development of skills needed for school and life success,” said Dr. Natasha Cabrera, lead researcher on the study. “A better understanding of the strengths as well as the difficulties of the home environment and development could help in crafting interventions that improve academic performance for Latino boys.”

Cabrera and her research team determined that, similar to their white peers, Latino boys tend to grow up in homes with “high levels of family functioning.” This was measured by monitoring both the stress levels and happiness levels of parents in the home.

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Despite having significantly fewer available “parental resources,” including higher education and income levels, compared to white families, Latino boys generally function well.

The researchers found out that Latino boys at nine months old have “similar cognitive and social-emotional skills as their peers” and they also live in stable home environments.

However, by preschool, Latino boys are behind their peers on many academic measures that are often used as indicators of future academic and economic success.

At preschool age, Latino boys lag behind white boys on all academic measures: math, early reading, and language skills. However, they did not lag behind on social skills. In general, these patterns continue to be present at the start of kindergarten.

“Based on the significant difference in academic skills between Latino boys and white boys, which are found by 24 months of age and persist into kindergarten, we recommend that policies and programs that address this achievement gap among Latinos be put into place as early as nine months of age and build on the strengths of these families,” said Dr. Cabrera.

She also recommended programs for Latino parents that encourage them to interact with their young children in ways that support early learning.

Read the brief here.

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