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Effects On Childhood Development Essay

1483 words - 6 pages

Numerous environmental factors have distinct and definitive and effects on childhood development. These factors vary widely, and encompass social, economic and ecological areas, as well as the physical environment in which a child is raised, influenced by neighborhood location, home life and educational facilities. Lorraine Maxwell, associate professor of design and environmental analysis at Cornell University defines these environments as "settings where a person spends a great deal of time and establishes important relationships." (Ulrich 12) When combined, these factors directly and indirectly influence the physical and emotional development of children. Negative impacts of environment ...view middle of the document...

These "negative home environments" are classified as potential risk factors, such as low income and poverty, as well the mothers state of mind and education level. These risk factors were of particular interest to CANDLE, or the Conditions Affecting Neurocognitive Development and Learning in Early Childhood, a study which tracked roughly 1500 mothers and their children. It goes on to state that "55.3 percent of families participating in the CANDLE study have annual Incomes below $25,000", a statistic which contribute to their finding that in "poor and low-income families, the home environment is more likely to be chaotic, and parents are more likely to be stressed and unresponsive." (Urban Child Institute 46). They further believe that this income related risk factor manifests itself in the mothers treatment of the child, asserting that mothers from lower-income brackets are shown to be less engaged with their children than their higher earning counterparts. These negative effects resulting from their economic standing are made present in many aspects of the developing child's life and have begin to show themselves early on, and often last into adulthood.
Lorraine Maxwell considered another aspect of the early childhood environment in her studies. The importance of the school system was examined, specifically overcrowding and its effects on child development. Maxwell considered the implications of overcrowding within the school system not only in regards to total number of students, but also as to the square footage per child within the classroom, a take on population density. In her studies she came to a number of conclusions demonstrating the negative effect that such overcrowding can have, her data suggesting that "both girls and boys are vulnerable to the negative effects of high classroom density". (Ulrich 13) An interesting trend began to come to light as Maxwell went over her results, girls in overcrowded classrooms demonstrated lessened scores on reading tests, while boys test scores seemed to remain unaffected, though the boys did show an increase in behavioral issues as the amount of square ft. per child decreased in the classroom. This negative effect resulting from crowded academic environments seemed to hold true when applied to home situations as Maxwell continued her study, finding that "children of both genders who reported living in more crowded homes scored lower on reading" (13) From these findings Maxwell believed it was indicated that individual performance and development can be directly affected by the physical conditions in the child's environment. This finding was reinforced when a second aspect of the physical environment of the classroom was taken into consideration. Maxwell and graduate student Emily Kuperstein then proceeded to examine classrooms with no decoration, displaying little to no work completed by the students within the classroom. As part of the further study teachers were suggested make...

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