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Do child care characteristics during toddlerhood explain income-based gaps in reading and math skills at preschool?


Children’s early care and education (ECE) experiences have been found to explain developmental differences in school readiness between children in low- versus high-income households. However, the majority of this research has focused on preschool and center-based ECE. We have less knowledge about the specific characteristics of ECE across setting types prior to preschool that contribute to later income-based gaps in children’s cognitive skills. This study examined children’s ECE characteristics in formal and informal settings during toddlerhood (age 2) as mediators of the association between family income and children’s reading and math skills at preschool (age 4). Findings from a nationally representative sample of children who attended ECE at age 2 (N = 4,500) revealed that, among 8 characteristics of children’s ECE experiences at age 2, only one characteristic, caregivers’ report of daily reading, was a significant predictor of children’s later reading and math skills. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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