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Family Socioeconomic Status and Consistent Environmental Stimulation in Early Childhood


  • The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development is directed by a Steering Committee and supported by NICHD through a cooperative agreement (U10), which calls for scientific collaboration between the grantees and the NICHD staff. The content is solely the responsibility of the named authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the EKS National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institutes of Health, or individual members of the Network. Current members of the Steering Committee of the NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, listed in alphabetical order, are: Jay Belsky (Birkbeck University of London), Cathryn Booth-LaForce (University of Washington), Robert H. Bradley (University of Arkansas at Little Rock), Celia A. Brownell (University of Pittsburgh), Margaret Burchinal (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Susan B. Campbell (University of Pittsburgh), Elizabeth Cauffman (University of California, Irvine), Alison Clarke-Stewart (University of California, Irvine), Martha Cox (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Robert Crosnoe (University of Texas at Austin), James A. Griffin (NICHD Project Scientist and Scientific Coordinator), Bonnie Halpern-Felsher (University of California, San Francisco), Willard Hartup (University of Minnesota), Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek (Temple University), Daniel Keating (University of Michigan), Bonnie Knoke (RTI International), Tama Leventhal (Tufts University), Kathleen McCartney (Harvard University), Vonnie C. McLoyd (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Fred Morrison (University of Michigan), Philip Nader (University of California, San Diego), Marion O’Brien (University of North Carolina at Greensboro), Margaret Tresch Owen (University of Texas at Dallas), Ross Parke (University of California, Riverside), Robert Pianta (University of Virginia), Kim M. Pierce (University of Wisconsin–Madison), A. Vijaya Rao (RTI International), Glenn I. Roisman (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Susan Spieker (University of Washington), Laurence Steinberg (Temple University), Elizabeth Susman (Pennsylvania State University), Deborah Lowe Vandell (University of California, Irvine), and Marsha Weinraub (Temple University).

concerning this article should be addressed to Robert Crosnoe, Department of Sociology and Population Research Center, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station A1700, Austin, TX 78712-1088. Electronic mail may be sent to


The transition into school occurs at the intersection of multiple environmental settings. This study applied growth curve modeling to a sample of 1,364 American children, followed from birth through age 6, who had been categorized by their exposure to cognitive stimulation at home and in preschool child care and 1st-grade classrooms. Of special interest was the unique and combined contribution to early learning of these 3 settings. Net of socioeconomic selection into different settings, children had higher math achievement when they were consistently stimulated in all 3, and they had higher reading achievement when consistently stimulated at home and in child care. The observed benefits of consistent environmental stimulation tended to be more pronounced for low-income children.