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13 - Low-Income Children's Activity Participation as a Predictor of Psychosocial and Academic Outcomes in Middle Childhood and Adolescence

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 September 2009

Marika N. Ripke
Director of Hawaii Kids Count and Affiliate Faculty for the Center on the Family, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Aletha C. Huston
Priscilla Pond Flawn Regents Professor of Child Development for the Human Development and Family Sciences, University of Texas at Austin
David M. Casey
Community and Policy Research Partnerships Coordinator in the International Collaborative Centre for the Study of Social and Physical Environments and Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary
Aletha C. Huston
University of Texas, Austin
Marika N. Ripke
University of Hawaii, Manoa
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Middle childhood is a time when children become increasingly involved in activities and relationships outside of the home. In middle childhood, children enter formal schooling and, by third to fifth grade, they move out of child care. Parents face new issues of providing adequate supervision, educational experiences, developmental opportunities, and recreation for their children outside of school. These issues are particularly salient for single, employed parents with low incomes.

How children spend their time outside of school can play an important role in their psychosocial and academic development. Researchers studying children's out-of-school time use make distinctions between relaxed leisure (i.e., unstructured) activities and constructive or organized leisure (i.e., structured) activities. Engaging in structured activities is a way to acquire and master skills in both social and academic domains. Structured activities provide children with the opportunity to learn, explore their interests, and interact with their peers in organized settings supervised by adults; children who engage in them are socially skilled and tend to do well in school. Conversely, extended time in unstructured environments with little or no adult supervision (e.g., hanging out with friends in the neighborhood) may put children at risk of physical, emotional, and psychological harm (Agnew & Peterson, 1989; Mahoney & Stattin, 2000; McHale, Crouter, & Tucker, 2001).

A large body of research shows that structured out-of-school activities can serve protective, as well as developmentally enhancing, functions during adolescence, but children in the middle childhood years have received less research attention.

Developmental Contexts in Middle Childhood
Bridges to Adolescence and Adulthood
, pp. 260 - 282
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2006

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