What are some factors that affect early learning?

A child’s home, family, and daily life have a strong effect on his or her ability to learn. Parents and guardians can control some things in their child’s life and environment, but not everything.

Some factors that can affect early learning include:1,2,3,4,5

  • Parents’ education
  • Family income
  • The number of parents in the home
  • Access to books and play materials
  • Stability of home life
  • Going to preschool
  • Quality of child care
  • Stress levels and exposure to stress (in the womb, as an infant, and as a child)
  • How many languages are spoken at home


  1. Campbell, F.A., Pungello, E.P., Kainz, K., Burchinal, M., Pan, Y., Wasik, B.H., et al. (2012). Adult outcomes as a function of an early childhood educational program: An Abecedarian Project follow-up. Developmental Psychology, 48(4), 1033–1043.
  2. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2006). The NICHD study of early child care and youth development: Findings for children up to age 4½ years. Rockville, MD: Author. Retrieved February 4, 2015, from https://www.nichd.nih.gov/publications/pubs/Documents/SECCYD_06.pdf (PDF 1.2 MB)
  3. Vandell, D. L., Belsky, J., Burchinal, M., Vandergrift, N., & Steinberg, L.; NICHD Early Child Care Research Network. (2010). Do effects of early child care extend to age 15 years? Results from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. Child Development, 81(3), 737–756. Retrieved September 4, 2015, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2938040/.
  4. Blair, C. (2012). Stress relief can be the key to success in school. Scientific American Mind, 23(4).
  5. Barac, R., & Bialystok, E. (2012). Bilingual effects on cognitive and linguistic development: Role of language, cultural background, and education. Child Development, 83(2), 413–422.
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