Penn State Symposium on Families' Contributions to Disparities in School Readiness

Apr 20, 2005

"Early Disparities in School Readiness: How do Families Contribute to Successful and Unsuccessful Transitions into School?" will be the focus of Penn State University's 13th annual Symposium on Family Issues, to be held October 13-14, 2005.  The 2005 symposium is innovative, not only for its emphasis on family contributions to school readiness, but also for integration of psychological, sociological and policy perspectives.
 
The intent of the symposium is to better understand striking disparities in children's acquisition of the many inter-related competencies (e.g., executive function, language skills, and social skills) that culminate in school readiness, paying particular attention to the roles families play in exacerbating or minimizing those disparities. Dramatic changes have occurred in the way that educators, researchers, and policy-makers think about the transition into school and the factors that influence school readiness.  Once focused on discrete skills, such as identifying letters and numbers, school readiness research now recognizes the importance of early developmental experiences that foster the social-emotional regulation skills and executive brain functions that promote school engagement and capacity to learn in school. 
 
In each of the four sessions, a lead speaker will be followed by three discussants. George Farkas (Penn State) will examine present and past disparities in school readiness, and characteristics of communities and families that exacerbate or minimize disparities. Susan Landry (U. of Texas Health Science Center) will discuss the family's influence on early brain development and acquisition of literacy, language, and cognitive skills.  Annette Lareau (Temple) will explore the impact of non-familial experiences on school achievement, and how parents can influence children's relationships, activities, and interests. Susan Campbell (U. of Pittsburgh) will consider child and family characteristics that jeopardize ability to adapt to school, and challenges and solutions for program specialists.
 
Discussants include Michael L�pez (National Center for Latino Child & Family Research), Jane McLeod (Indiana U.), Lynne Vernon Feagans (UNC, Chapel Hill), Clancy Blair (Penn State), Guang Guo (UNC, Chapel Hill), Kyle Snow (NICHD, Early Learning and School Readiness), Diane Hughes (NYU), Sandy Hofferth (U. of Maryland), Joe Mahoney (Yale), Hirokazu Yoshikawa (NYU), Ray DeV. Peters (Queens U., Ontario), and Karen Bierman (Penn State).
 
Symposium sponsors include the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The symposium is organized by Alan Booth (Distinguished Professor of Sociology) and Ann C. Crouter (Director, Center for Work and Family Research) of Penn State. Information and registration at http://www.pop.psu.edu/events/symposium or contact Carolyn Scott (814)863-6806, css7@psu.edu.
 
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