Opening Doors for Latino Kids


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Today, one in four children in the U.S. is of Hispanic descent. By 2050, Latinos are expected to represent 36 percent of the population under 17; about the same as white children. Research shows Latino kids from low-income homes enter elementary school at a disadvantage. Now a new program is helping parents of Latinos get their kids ready for kindergarten and it’s working.

Starting kindergarten is exciting for most kids, but research shows that lack of resources and poverty may cause some Latino kids to start school unprepared and be at risk to start school behind their peers. Less than one in five Latino kids ages three to six can recognize the 26 letters of the alphabet, compared to more than one in three black and white children and two in five Asian kids.

A program called Abriendo Puertas, which means “Opening Doors,” is aiming to change that. It teaches parents strategies to help their children succeed. In a rigorous evaluation of the ten-session program, Child Trends found it’s working. Parents who participated, read to their child more often and applied research-based parenting approaches, such as stopping to talk about the story or using an expressive voice when reading. They were also more likely to go to the library to check out children’s materials and were more comfortable advocating for their children in school.

The Abriendo Puertas program has expanded to 34 states and researchers believe it has the potential for an even greater reach. The program is designed for parents with kids ages zero to five.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Julie Marks, Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.