Assessing the links among maternal nonstandard work schedules, early learning environments, and children's early academic skills

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Nina P. Smith (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Danielle Crosby

Abstract: The increase in nonstandard work schedules among mothers with preschool children has called attention to its effects on children's development. Additionally, evidence suggests that there may be varying patterns of child care utilization among mothers who work nonstandard schedules compared to those working standard schedules. Yet, to date, very little research has specifically examined the extent to which early learning environments help explain any associations between nonstandard work and child outcomes. To address this gap, the current study seeks to examine the relationship between maternal nonstandard work schedules and a salient aspect of the broader domain of academic readiness - preschool-aged children's early academic skills, as well as the potential mediating role of early learning environments (as experienced by children in child care and at home). Using nationally representative data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study - Birth Cohort (ECLS-B), a series of structural equation models were utilized to investigate the study aims. Results showed that early care and education learning environments and home learning environments partially mediated the relationship between maternal nonstandard work schedules and children's early academic skills. That is, children of mothers working nonstandard hours scored lower on assessments of academic skills than children of mothers working standard hours, and this appears to be partially explained by their reduced access to child care and home environments that emphasize early learning. The results from this study indicate the importance of measuring contextual influences in order to fully understand how maternal nonstandard work schedules are linked to children's early academic skills.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2012
Early Academic Skills, Early Childhood, Learning Environments, Maternal Employment, Nonstandard Work
Working mothers $z United States
Work and family $z United States
Early childhood education $z United States
Child care $z United States
Readiness for school $z United States

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