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The Relation of Parental Influence in Early Childhood to Cognitive Development: A Review of the Recent Literature

Freeberg, Norman E.; Payne, Donald T.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Memorandum
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Child Development, Cognitive Development, Parent Influence, Sex Differences, Young Children


A review of the literature is presented on the relation of parental influence in early childhood to cognitive development, and suggestions are given for future research. The significance of early learning is first considered and, from this consideration, the remainder of the review is presented under three headings—direct measure of parental influence on children's cognitive development, social class, and intellectual growth, and techniques for enhancement of cognitive skills in very young children. The section on direct parental influences considers: 1) influences on achievement (i.e., motivation for achievement; measured proficiency, and opinions about achievement); 2) effects of the social environment of the home; 3) influences on cognitive style; and 4) problems of accuracy in parental evaluation and report. The section on social class and intellectual growth includes discussion of effects of parental language-models and effects of deprivation in early childhood. The section on techniques for parents' enhancing of cognitive skills notes the scarcity of studies on the topic and briefly reviews studies by educators and psychologists to evaluate preschool teaching techniques among children of varying family backgrounds.

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