The Effective Preschool, Primary and Secondary Education (EPPSE) study tracked 3000 children from the age of three through to 18. By the time students were 18 years old, 'the early years Home Learning Environment shows a continued effect on overall A-level attainment' (7). The EY-HLE was more important for intellectual and social development than any other significant individual background, family and neighbourhood characteristics, including parental occupation, education or income. The study found that when students were 16 years old, the two main influences on their GCSE attainment were: having attended pre-school (especially a quality pre-school, as measured by ECERS: Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale) and their early years Home Learning Environment (EY-HLE) (1).
The researchers (from the University of Oxford and Institute of Education) found that the main activities that parents/carers do with their children (that they named the early years Home Learning Environment) which make a positive difference are: singing songs and nursery rhymes together, reading with their child, visiting the library, playing with letters and numbers, painting and drawing, taking children out and about, and providing opportunities for them to play with their friends at home.
What adults do with their young children (both at home and by sending them to pre-school) is more important than their social class, educational background or where they live.(2)