Home Visits Help Close Cognitive Development Gap


Photo courtesy of India Picture/Shutterstock.com

Research reveals that children from low-resource families often have lower cognitive development than those from wealthier homes with more resources. A new international study shows that early, home-based interventions that teach parents to engage children in playful interactive learning activities can help erase this gap.

The study included 293 children in India, Pakistan and Zambia whose families received biweekly home visits by parent trainers starting before one month of age and ending at age 3. The trainers modeled activities from the Partners for Learning response-to-intervention curriculum, which focuses on cognitive, self-help, language and motor skills. They left cards depicting the activities with parents, who were encouraged to apply them in daily life with the child until the next visit.

By the time they turned 3, children from disadvantaged backgrounds had cognitive and psychomotor development scores “statistically indistinguishable” from children in the study who were in high-resource families. The findings are especially promising for areas with limited infrastructure, say study authors, because the intervention did not require classrooms or meeting centers.

Source: “Home-Based Early Intervention and Influence of Family Resources on Cognitive Development,” published online March 14 in the journal Pediatrics.

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