Researchers evaluated children's homes and child care/preschool settings when the children were 4-1/2 years old, studied their first grade classrooms, and evaluated reading and math test scores through fifth grade.
In doing so, they gauged whether the links between various combinations of cognitive stimulation and children's achievement were simply due to the socioeconomic circumstances of the children's families, or whether children from different socioeconomic backgrounds got more or less, academically, from each combination.
"The ultimate payoff of attempts to improve one context of early childhood depends in part on whether related contexts are improved, too," according to Crosnoe.
Moreover, even though children from advantaged families are more likely to experience this convergence of support for learning across the contexts of their lives, the study found that low-income children may benefit more from it.
"Helping children, especially those from poor families, get off to a good start in elementary school has become a major focus of education policy," Crosnoe adds. "These policy interventions typically target one setting -- the home, preschool, or elementary school -- but rarely the intersection of all three."
This study suggests that increasing coordination among the three main contexts involved in the transition to formal school is critical. "To do so, policymakers must put renewed focus on the home-preschool partnerships often advocated by early intervention programs and the family-school partnerships advocated by No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the Elementary and Secondary Education Act," according to Crosnoe.
1.Robert Crosnoe, Tama Leventhal, R. J. Wirth, Kim M. Pierce, Robert C. Pianta. Family Socioeconomic Status and Consistent Environmental Stimulation in Early Childhood. Child Development, May 13 2010 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01446.x