When you create a healthy learning environment for your little baby and encourage her to do learning activities, she is more likely to develop cognitive skills that will be used later in life.

There are books and toys for kids that help them learn and as a parent, you can participate in conversations with your child to help her achieve academic success. A new study conducted by NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development explains how it works.

Child Learning at home

The Core of the Study

In the study, a group of children from birth to 5th grade was tracked to find the influence of different home learning environments on their cognitive skills. The researchers wanted to find reasons behind these influences.

Catherine Tamis-LeMonda, the lead author of the study, said that there is strong evidence that the link between academic success and home learning environment exists. The study found that home learning environment influences child’s language and cognitive development. When little babies have good parent-child interactions and have learning materials such as toys and books, they have better pre-academic skills.

Researchers also examined whether children from ethnically diverse, low-income families experience the same benefits of home learning environments. The researchers analyzed over 2,204 families with different backgrounds and incomes.

They measured learning environments through home visits at 14 months, 2 and 3 years, and at pre-kindergarten. They analyzed literature available to kids (book reading, storytelling, teaching letters and numbers as well), learning materials (toys and games that help develop different skills), and the quality of mom’s interactions with children. High-quality interactions included responding to child’s cues and labeling objects. These are interactions that are cognitively stimulating.

The same measurements were taken again in 5th-grade based on the quality of mom’s interactions with children and a number of books at home. Both discussion-based and spontaneous interactions were analyzed.

Toddler playing with a developing toy

The Results

Pre-kindergarten and 5th-grade children were assessed on age-appropriate academic skills. For smaller children, tests included vocabulary, math problem-solving and letter and word identification. For older kids, researchers measured reading, vocabulary, cognitive abilities and math.

The researchers found that early development of pre-academic skills persists into adolescence and influences 5th-grade skills. Besides, researchers found that children have similar effects regardless of their ethical background.

The study took 10 years and surprisingly, learning environments were stable, which means parents provided their children with solid learning patterns and supported their emerging skills. The researchers said it’s important to provide healthy learning environments and experiences for children to positively influence their academic outcomes and academic success. They also noted that the study has implications for policy and practice, including interventions for families from disadvantaged backgrounds.

When parents encourage the development of learning environments, they support their child’s academic success. Programs like Early Head Start can help children exposed to socioeconomic disadvantages to learn in the same environment.