Even though recent research shows that children of immigrants in high school perform well and often outperform their peers with U.S.-born parents, the opposite is true for young children. Elementary-age children of immigrants face more health risks and educational challenges that could strongly affect their futures, according to a July 2013 report by Migration Policy Institute.
Early childhood education and elementary school readiness is a source of concern for many children of immigrants, the report says. These children are often at a disadvantage because they have not had access to childcare or preschool. As a result, children of immigrants are academically unprepared for school and perform worse than their peers.
This same group of children is generally at risk for childhood health problems, the report finds. Poor health can lead to lower academic performance since sick children have a harder time being attentive in class and usually miss more school.
Because the move from kindergarten to elementary school is a time that is extremely critical to a child’s development, the report finds that early educational deficits can have an impact on the child’s life for years to come.
Different interventions can help children of immigrants and immigrant children to improve their performance and have results similar to their native-born peers. Investments in greater access to early childhood education, promotion of better health policies for young children and dedication to creating stronger relationships between family and school could positively benefit this group of youth.
The Migration Policy Institute is an independent nonpartisan think tank that studies the movement of people around the world.
This research was supported by the Foundation For Child Development.