Aims and Methods
This report is based on a sample of 4,583 families who took part in interviews when children were aged two and three as part of the Study of Early Education and Development (SEED) longitudinal study.
Family interviews asked questions about childcare attended, the home environment and child socio-emotional development. Cognitive development was measured through direct assessments with children. Child development was also reported by childcare providers attended by children in the study.
This report explores:
- The impact of the policy of funded early education and care (ECEC) for disadvantaged households on take-up of ECEC for two- to three-year-old children
- Whether the amount of differing types of ECEC received between ages two and
- three is associated with child cognitive and socio-emotional development at age three.
- Whether aspects of the home environment at age two are associated with child cognitive and socio-emotional development at age three.
- Take-up of ECEC did not increase in the year following the introduction of the two- year-old policy. Subsequent census data from later years (DfE, 2017) indicates increased take up, suggesting that it took time for policy impacts to be seen.
- Early cognitive and socio-emotional developmental benefits were seen to be associated with use of ECEC between ages two and age three:
- Language development at age three was associated with increased hours spent in formal individual ECEC (i.e. childminders) and informal individual ECEC (e.g. relatives, friends) between ages two and three.
- Increased hours spent in formal group ECEC between ages two and three was associated with reduced emotional symptoms and reduced peer problems as well as improved prosocial behaviour at age three.
- Increased hours spent with childminders between ages two and three was associated with reduced emotional symptoms and improved behavioural self-regulation at age three.
- Benefits of ECEC were similar for the most and least disadvantaged families.
- A number of characteristics of the home environment at age two were associated with cognitive and socio-emotional development at age three, including the home learning environment and the parent-child relationship. The relationships between ECEC and outcomes were largely independent of the advantages of a rich home learning environment.