A five-year-old child of non-western parents has on average developed less empathy, is poorer to cooperate and has more difficulty expressing his or her feelings than a three-year-old child of Danish parents.
This is one of the conclusions of the report ‘Børns tidlige udvikling og læring’ (Children’s early development and learning), published by a research team from Aarhus University, University of Southern Denmark and Ramböll.
Information has talked to three of the researchers behind the report, who agree that the results are ‘ extremely worrying ‘:
‘ In the short term, this may mean that the non-western children are more difficult to participate actively in the community in kindergarten. This can mean a lot to their well-being in the day care institution, but research shows that it can also have long-term consequences for their learning at school. When we can see such great differences between western and non-westerly children in the three-five year-old age, it is very worrying, says Hanne Nielsen, manager of Ramboll.
On average, the non-western children have a level of development that is lower than that of a two year younger child of Danish parents. The difference between the two groups remains markedly up to the Femethal tower, which is the oldest group of children involved in the study. According to the report, there is no evidence that children of non-western parents are catching up with the Danish children’s level of competence against school start.
The social characteristics of children have been measured using a detailed questionnaire in which the child’s educator must answer a number of questions.
These are questions like:
‘ How does the child solve a conflict? ‘
‘ Looking for adult help or giving it up? ‘
‘ Does the child care for other children if they cry or have had a toy removed? ‘
‘ Is the child able to express his feelings? ‘
“The affiliated educator must then assess these parameters on a scale. The method is called SEAM and is very recognized,” explains Peter Jensen, professor at Aarhus University and part of the research team.
SEAM was developed by renowned Professor Jane Squires of the Oregon University, who researches children’s early learning.
She is also behind the so-called ‘ Ages and Stages Questionnaire ‘, one of the world’s most widely used educational tools, translated into 65 languages. Among other things, the Danish research team feels confident that their results are valid.
The report is part of the Future Day-care development programme and is one of the largest of its kind. A total of 13,000 children and 400 day carers participated in the four-year project, divided into 140 institutions in 14 municipalities. Behind the programme are the Ministry of Children, Education and gender equality, RAMBØLL management Consulting, Aarhus University, UC Nord and Denmark’s evaluation Institute. Politiken [a Danish “news” paper] yesterday mentioned the report’s conclusions, but without focusing on the differences between children with non-western parents and Danish children.
In addition to poorer social competencies, the report also shows that the children of non-western parents are statistically markedly inferior at speaking Danish and have an inferior mathematical understanding. It’s hardly surprising, Dorthe Bleses thinks.