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The Added Impact of Parenting Education in Early Childhood Education

Todd Grindal, Jocelyn Bonnes Bowne, Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Holly S. Schindler, Greg J. Duncan, Katherine Magnuson, Jack P. Shonkoff


November 8, 2016

Abt Global' Todd Grindal contributed to this article on early childhood education programs that offer parent training and support services.

Many early childhood education (ECE) programs seek to enhance parents' capacities to support their children's development. Using a meta-analytic database of 46 studies of ECE programs that served children age three to five-years-old, we examine the benefits to children's cognitive and pre-academic skills of adding parenting education to ECE programs for children and consider the differential impacts of:

  1. parenting education programs of any type;
  2. parenting education programs that provided parents with modeling of or opportunities to practice stimulating behaviors and
  3. parenting education programs that were delivered through intensive home visiting.

The results of the study call into question some general longstanding assertions regarding the benefits of including parenting education in early childhood programs. We find no differences in program impacts between ECE programs that did and did not provide some form of parenting education. We find some suggestive evidence that among ECE programs that provided parenting education, those that provided parents with opportunities to practice parenting skills were associated with greater short-term impacts on children's pre-academic skills. Among ECE programs that provided parenting education, those that did so through one or more home visits a month yielded effect sizes for cognitive outcomes that were significantly larger than programs that provided lower dosages of home visits.

North America