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Early Childhood Research Quarterly 25 (2010) 140–165

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Early Childhood Research Quarterly

Review

How does early childhood care and education affect cognitive development? An international review of the effects of early interventions for children from different social backgrounds
Kaspar Burger
Department of Educational Sciences, University ofFribourg, Rue Faucigny 2, 1700 Fribourg, Switzerland

a r t i c l e

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a b s t r a c t
A number of authors have investigated the impact of early childhood education and care programs on the development of children. Often they have focused on the effects on children from socio-economically disadvantaged families. To assess the effects of various preschool programs on cognitivedevelopment, recent key studies were reviewed. In addition, the extent to which these programs could establish equal educational opportunities for children from different social backgrounds was evaluated. Program start, intensity, and duration were considered. The findings indicate that the vast majority of recent early education and care programs had considerable positive short-term effects and somewhatsmaller long-term effects on cognitive development and that in relative terms children from socioeconomically disadvantaged families made as much or slightly more progress than their more advantaged peers. Despite this, early childhood education and care cannot compensate completely for developmental deficits due to unfavorable learning conditions in disadvantaged milieus. Implications for researchand policy are discussed. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Article history: Received 17 February 2009 Received in revised form 23 October 2009 Accepted 1 November 2009 Keywords: Early childhood education and care Cognitive development Equality of opportunity Social background Socio-economic disadvantage Compensatory effects International review

Contents 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Researchobjectives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Effects of socio-economic status on the development of children . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . Early education and care and equality of opportunity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Related analyses and main focus of the present analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Systematic review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.1. Conceptual approach and criteria of including studies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.2. Experimental versus quasi-experimental studies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.3. Program characteristics and research designs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.3.1. Programs studied in Europe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.3.2. Programs studied in the U.S. and elsewhere . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ....
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