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BACKGROUND: It is widely believed that increasing parental involvement can improve children's educational outcomes although we lack good evidence for such claims. This study evaluated the effectiveness of a parent-delivered early language enrichment programme. METHODS: We conducted a randomised controlled trial (RCT) with 208 preschool children and their parents living in socially diverse areas in the United Kingdom. Families were allocated to an oral language programme (N = 103) or an active control programme targeting motor skills (N = 105). Parents delivered the programmes to their child at home in daily 20-min sessions over 30 weeks of teaching. RESULTS: Children receiving the language programme made significantly larger gains in language (d = .21) and narrative skills (d = .36) than children receiving the motor skills programme at immediate posttest. Effects on language were maintained 6 months later (d = .34), and at this point, the language group also scored higher on tests of early literacy (d values=.35 and .42). There was no evidence that the movement programme improved motor skills. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides evidence for the effectiveness of a parent-delivered language enrichment programme. Further large-scale evaluations of the programme are needed to confirm and extend these findings.

Original publication




Journal article


J Child Psychol Psychiatry

Publication Date





545 - 555


Language, early literacy, education, motor skills, parents, randomised controlled trial