Predicting developmental outcomes in middle childhood from early life language and parenting experiences

Sophie von Stumm*, Jelena O'Reilly, Katrina d'Apice

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Children's early life experiences of language and parenting are thought to have pervasive, long-term influence on their cognitive and behavioural development. However, studies are scarce that collected naturalistic observations to broadly assess children's early life experiences and test their associations with developmental outcomes in middle childhood. Here, we used digital audio-recorders to collect three full days of naturalistic observations from 107 British families with children (46 boys) aged 2–4 years, of whom 89 participated in a follow-up assessment four years later when the children were 5–8 years old. We found that children's early life experiences of language and parenting were not significantly associated with their later language ability, academic performance and behavioural outcomes. We explore differences in methodology, sample characteristics and the role of developmental periods as possible explanations for the discrepancy in findings between the current and previous studies.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalBritish journal of developmental psychology
Early online date26 Jul 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022 The Authors. British Journal of Developmental Psychology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Psychological Society.

Funding Information:
SvS is recipient of a CRISP Jacobs Fellowship and a British Academy Mid‐Career Fellowship. This work was also supported by the University of York.


  • academic performance
  • language
  • naturalistic observation
  • parenting
  • strengths and difficulties

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