, Volume 16, Issue 1 Supplement, pp 88-101
Date: 28 Mar 2012

Child, Family, and Neighborhood Associations with Parent and Peer Interactive Play During Early Childhood

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Abstract

To examine national patterns of peer and parent interactive play opportunities that enhance early learning/socialization. Bivariate and multivariable analyses of cross-sectional data on 22,797 children aged 1–5 years from the National Survey of Children’s Health 2007 were performed to determine the child, family, and neighborhood factors associated with four parent-initiated activities. Outcomes measures included time (days/week) children spent: participating in peer play; being read to; sung to/told stories; and taken on family outings. Covariates included race/ethnicity, poverty, TV watching, childcare, child and maternal physical and mental health, family factors (structure, size, language, stress, education), and neighborhood factors (amenities, support, physical condition, safety). According to adjusted regression models, minority children from lower income, non-English-speaking households with limited education, poorer maternal health and greater parenting stress were read to/told stories less than children without these characteristics, while neighborhood factors exerted less influence. In contrast, significant reductions in days/week of peer play were associated with unsupportive neighborhoods and those with the poorest physical conditions and limited amenities. Likewise, reductions in outings were associated with fewer neighborhood amenities. The findings of this study indicate that a variety of child, family, and neighborhood factors are associated with parent-initiated behaviors such as reading, storytelling, peer interactive play, and family outings. Appropriate evidence-based home visiting interventions targeting child health, parenting skills, early childhood education, and social services in at-risk communities would appear to be appropriate vehicles for addressing such parent-initiated play activities that have the potential to enhance development.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.