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16 - Continuity and Discontinuity in Middle Childhood: Implications for Adult Outcomes in the UK 1970 Birth Cohort

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 September 2009

Leon Feinstein
Reader in the Economics of Education, Institute of Education, University of London
John Bynner
Professor of Social Sciences in Education, Centre for Longitudinal Studies, Bedford Group, Institute of Education, University of London
Aletha C. Huston
University of Texas, Austin
Marika N. Ripke
University of Hawaii, Manoa
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There is a large body of evidence pointing to the importance of the early years of life, in laying the foundations for later childhood development and adult outcomes. The early years – by which we mean the period from birth to age 5 – encompass infancy and the preschool period before kindergarten and formal schooling begin. It is a period of far greater change in apparent abilities, propensities, and physical constitution and brain development than at any other time (Caviness, Philipek, & Kennedy, 1993). The basic elements of cognitive and behavioral functioning are set down during this period as are the more intangible elements of development bound up with “risk” and “protection” (Rutter, 1990; Brooks-Gunn, Duncan, & Maritato, 1997; Bynner, 2001; Schoon et al., 2002). These include family circumstances and the behavior and values of parents as well as the individual attributes of children concerned with disposition and temperament through which personality is formed. Such characteristics lie at the heart of children's resilience or vulnerability to adversity on which much subsequent success will depend.

For these reasons, much attention has been given to interventions in the early years that halt or reverse the negative processes that will impede performance on entry into school. Such initiatives as Early Head Start in the United States and Sure Start in Great Britain (Glass, 1999) reflect the well-established belief in policy circles that the earlier intervention begins, the greater the returns to government investment, reinforcing the personal and external resources that children bring with them into the school age period (Schweinhart, Barnes, & Weikart, 1993).

Developmental Contexts in Middle Childhood
Bridges to Adolescence and Adulthood
, pp. 327 - 349
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2006

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