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Half of young children read to at least once a day; more high school students pursuing honors classes than sports

Published: Thursday, Aug. 11 2011 11:45 a.m. MDT

Sharon Litwak and her children Andrea, 7, left, Jessica, 5, right, and Ilana, 2, read books at their home.

Lawrence K. Ho, Mct

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SALT LAKE CITY — Half of children ages 1 to 5 were read to aloud seven or more times a week by a family member, and the number of older children pursuing honors classes in school is rising while those participating in sports is in decline.

Those findings are part of a Census Bureau report released Thursday and draw on the most recent analysis of data from 2009. The statistics from the Survey of Income and Program Participation looks at how children younger than 18 spend their day.

Reading interactions are more frequent among families above poverty, but reading interactions among low-income families have increased over the past 10 years. In 2009, 56 percent of 1- and 2-year-olds above poverty were read to seven or more times a week, compared with 45 percent below the poverty level. However, while parental reading involvement for children above poverty was not different from rates in 1998, it rose from 37 percent for those below poverty.

The survey also found that between 1998 and 2009, the number of children taking honors or advanced placement classes rose from 21 percent to 27 percent in the 12-17 age group. Among all ages in the survey, participation in sports decreased from 41 percent in 2007 to 36 percent in 2009.

Other results of the survey found:

The percentage of children who talked or played together with a parent three or more times in a typical day increased from 50 percent in 1998 to 57 percent in 2009.

The percentage of children who ate dinner with a designated parent seven times per week on average increased slightly from 69 percent in 1998 to 72 percent in 2009. "Designated" refers to the mother in households where both parents are present, the father if the mother is not, or a guardian if neither parent is in the household.

The percentage of children whose parents praised them three or more times per day increased from 48 percent in 1998 to 57 percent in 2009.

Children 12 to 17 years old were more likely than children 6 to 11 to participate in sports in 2009 (41 percent and 32 percent, respectively).

Children 6 to 11 were more likely than older children to participate in lessons (32 percent and 29 percent, respectively). Lessons include those taken after school or on the weekend in subjects such as music, dance, language, computers or religion.

In 2009, 5 percent of children 6 to 11 and 9 percent 12 to 17 had ever repeated a grade.

Email: sfidel@desnews.com

Twitter: SteveFidel

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