Professor of Clinical Pediatrics UC Davis Medical Center UC Davis Medical Center Sacramento, California, United States
Background: Some aspects of preschoolers’ lives need not be affected by socio-economic factors but may affect kindergarten readiness. Daily reading promotes reading readiness. Bedtime routines, adequate sleep, and family meals promote wellness. School readiness has multiple domains: early learning skills, physical health and motor development, social-emotional development, and self-regulation. It is not a solitary construct but has lifelong implications for health and wellbeing.
Objective: To describe daily reading, bedtime consistency, adequate sleep, and eating as a family among preschool children.
Design/Methods: The National Survey of Children’s Health provides nationally representative estimates of the health of US children < 18 yrs. Annual survey from 2016-9 were combined, then limited to ages 3-5 yrs (n= 19,966) and weighted to produce nationally representative estimates for 11,891,742 children. Parental report of daily reading, consistency in bedtime, amount of sleep, and frequency of family meals were assessed. Comparisons were made by sex, race/ethnicity, primary language, household education, family structure, poverty status, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), maternal and paternal mental health. Given complex sample design, data were analyzed using SAS PROC SURVEYFREQ.
Results: Among children ages 3 to 5 year, 57% had reading ≥ 4 days per week, 89% usually or always had the same bedtime, 65% had ≥ 10 hours of sleep per night, and 81% ate meals as a family ≥ 4 days per week. Boys and girls fared similarly. Differences were seen in all other comparisons (see Table). Family income differences were associated with the largest differences in reading, while making little difference in eating as a family. Children’s whose lives were shielded against ACEs had higher rates of reading, consistent bedtimes, adequate amounts of sleep, and family meals. Higher family education was not associated with higher rates of family meals. Conclusion(s): Many preschool children are not getting daily reading or adequate amounts of sleep. Most preschool age children are reported to have a regular bedtime and most are reported to regularly eat meals as a family. Other studies have shown these routines in children's lives make a difference in their well being. Disadvantages permeate society and disparities in school readiness perpetuate disadvantage. Some social determinants of health are hard to influence. Attention to daily routine may be one avenue to promote school readiness and already is part of well child care assessments.
Authors/Institutions: Robert S. Byrd, UC Davis Medical Center, Sacramento, California, United States