Research on maternal educational attainment has shown associations between higher levels of maternal education and positive child outcomes, such as greater academic proficiency and fewer externalizing problems. Most studies examine maternal education as a stable construct, measuring it at one point in time; however, a sizeable minority of mothers pursue education after the birth of a child. As such, it is important to investigate whether an increase in maternal education is a protective or a risk factor for child outcomes. Further, few have explored the processes through which the association between increases in maternal education and child outcomes exist. The present study examined the association between increases in maternal education prior to their child entering kindergarten and child achievement and externalizing behavior at age 9. Further, this study examined home learning environment and positive parenting at age 5 as mediators. Baseline education was included as a moderator of the association between increases in maternal education and the mediator variables (i.e., home learning environment, positive parenting). Data was from Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS), a longitudinal birth cohort study comprising 4,898 families. Data from birth year and child ages 1, 3, 5, and 9 were included. Using structural equation modeling, findings indicated that increases in maternal education were associated with greater child academic achievement but not child externalizing behavior at age 9. Increases in maternal education were not linked to home learning environment or positive parenting at age 5; however, higher levels of positive parenting and a better-quality home learning environment were both associated with higher levels of academic achievement and fewer child externalizing problems at age 9, even after controlling for various demographic covariates and earlier measures of child academic achievement and child externalizing behavior. Baseline education did not moderate the association between increases in maternal education and the home learning environment or positive parenting at age 5. Findings indicated that although increases in maternal education were associated with greater child academic skills, this association did not operate through a better-quality home learning environment or use of more positive parenting practices. However, a better-quality home learning environment and more positive parenting practices at age 5 were associated with greater academic achievement and fewer externalizing behaviors at age 9, suggesting the importance of cognitive stimulation in the environment and maternal responsiveness/warmth in the development of optimal child academic and behavioral outcomes. Implications and conclusions based on findings are discussed.
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|School:||Northern Illinois University|
|School Location:||United States -- Illinois|
|Source:||MAI 81/7(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Clinical psychology, Educational psychology, Individual & family studies|
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