In case you haven’t heard, having a home full of learning activities, books and toys is pretty good for baby. A new study backs up the fact that things like storytime and educational toys can have beneficial effects on baby’s brain skills – lasting all the way through grade school.
The quality of baby’s home learning environment influences their future academic success in fifth grade, according to a study released by New York University. This environment depends on three things: the child’s participation in learning activities, availability of learning materials like books and the quality of a parent’s interactions with their child.
Parents who are diligent in engaging their children in interactions like storytelling or casual conversation set positive habits into place that stick, researchers found. This is especially important for children who are from disadvantaged backgrounds with fewer opportunities to succeed, according to Catherine Tamis-LeMonda, the study’s lead author and NYU applied psychology professor.
"Our study confirms that strong home learning environments arm children with foundational skills that are springboards to long-term academic achievement," Tamis-LeMonda says.
The study looked at children from over 2,000 families that were part of the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project, all of whom were from low-income backgrounds. Their findings held true regardless of ethnicity. On home visits at 14 months, 2 and 3 years, pre-k and fifth grade age, researchers measured children’s age-appropriate skills like vocabulary, word identification and older kids’ reading abilities.
Researchers also studied the environments that these children were in and found that the quality of very early environments really mattered. They found that the quality of children’s home learning tended to stay stable over the 10-year period, meaning that it’s an important thing to think about from the start, even during baby’s first year.