A brief overview of the evidence
The evidence clearly shows that a positive home learning environment in the first five years, can be the determining factor in a child’s later educational trajectory. Staggeringly "around 80% of the difference in how well children from different backgrounds do at school is dependent on what happens outside of school". Rashbash et al. 2010
So why do parents have such a significant impact on a child’s outcomes?
Parenting has its influence indirectly though shaping the child’s self-concept as a learner and through setting high aspirations.
(Desforges with Abouchar, 2003)
While early years practitioners and teachers provide essential support in academic learning, parents have a greater influence on attitude and propensity for learning in the earliest stages of a child’s life. Further to this, parental involvement is especially beneficial when parents and professionals negotiate a continuity of experience for children (Siraj-Blatchford, 2002).
A major longitudinal study highlighted the critical role of parents’ in determining children’s outcomes in the early years: the effective provision of pre-school education (EPPE, later EPPSE) project (e.g., Sylva et al. 2004, 2010, 2014; Melhuish et al. 2008).
The EPPE study captured and defined the powerful influence of the variable that became known as the Home Learning Environment. One outcome of the study was the integration of the concept of the home learning environment into early years practice. The EYFS specifically identifies the requirement for partnership working between practitioners and parents.
In recent years the importance of supporting and engaging parents in their child’s early development has been repeatedly recognised as one of the key attributes in ensuring social mobility and equality of opportunity. The Social Mobility Commission’s State of the Nation report in 2017 recommended integrating evidence-based parent support programmes into early years strategies. The Department for Education has recently announced its intention to invest funding into home learning environment interventions, to increase the evidence base of what works.