Early Years

March 14, 2001 2 min read

Unused Subsidies: An upcoming study by researchers at Temple University in Philadelphia will explore reasons why some low-income mothers are not taking advantage of child-care subsidies.

Reports from around the country show that subsidy- utilization rates are as low as 30 percent in many cities and that no more than 50 percent of eligible families use the benefit.

One obstacle to subsidy use in Pennsylvania, for example, could be that mothers must have a formal child-support decree in place to apply for assistance. Mothers, however, may not want to divulge certain information about the children’s fathers. In addition, mothers are required to work at least 25 hours a week and show proof of their income. Finally, cultural reasons may prevent families from wanting to use a child-care provider.

“Some people consider going to a child-care center or using someone not connected to the family or community as not very good for the child,” said Anne Shlay, an urban studies and geography professor at Temple and the principal investigator of the study.

The study will include focus groups, surveys, and observations of child-care settings.

Just for Boys: Kindergarten has evolved into a preacademic program that is better suited to girls than boys, argues the author of a recent article in the journal Psychology of Men and Masculinity.

The solution, writes Dr. Leonard Sax, a physician and psychologist from Poolesville, Md., is to start boys in kindergarten a year later. When they turn 5, they would enter an alternative kindergarten that focuses on group activities and nonverbal skills instead of early reading and mathematics. Then, they would start regular kindergarten at age 6, and 1st grade at age 7.

The fact that boys are prescribed Ritalan and are retained in grade at higher rates than girls is evidence that the current system is not meeting their needs, Dr. Sax writes.

At kindergarten age, the development of boys often lags behind that of girls, agrees Marilou Hyson, an associate executive director at the National Association for the Education of Young Children in Washington. But, she added, “many little girls have the same differences in their development. You are not going to fix the problem by creating different kinds of learning environments for boys.”

She said that the kindergarten curriculum should include opportunities for all children to be active and sociable, and should accommodate children at different stages in their development.

—Linda Jacobson

A version of this article appeared in the March 14, 2001 edition of Education Week