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Does neighbourhood residence influence the readiness to learn of kindergarten children in Vanouver? : a multilevel analysis of neighbourhood effects Oliver, Lisa Nicole

Abstract

This thesis investigates the relations between socio-economic dimensions of neighbourhoods and readiness to learn scores among kindergarten children, independent of family income. The study is based on readiness to learn data collected for 3,721 children attending kindergarten in the Vancouver School District in February 2000. Readiness to learn is assessed by each child's teacher using the Educational Development Instrument (EDI), a questionnaire that assesses readiness to learn in five sub-scales: emotional health and maturity, social knowledge and competence, communication skills and general knowledge, physical health and well-being, and language and cognitive development. Factor analysis at the census tract level is used to agglomerate Vancouver census tracts with similar socio-economic dimensions into 68 neighbourhoods that have a minimum of 30 kindergarten children. Map displays, correlation analysis, and regression analysis, at the ecological level, show a positive relationship between readiness to learn in each of the 5 sub-scales and neighbourhood socio-economic status. Multilevel analysis shows that the socioeconomic status of neighbourhoods has an independent effect on children's readiness to learn, when controlling for family income and ESL status, in each of the 5 EDI sub-scales. Results indicate that a neighbourhoods' socioeconomic status statistically accounts for under 3 percent of the variance in children's readiness to learn. Multilevel analysis for each of the sub-scales show that language and cognitive skills have stronger neighbourhood effects than emotional maturity and social skills, suggesting neighbourhoods may have more influence on certain dimensions of children's development.

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