Infant and Child Development

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Volume 27 Issue 4 (July/August 2018), Pages

Childcare experiences and early school outcomes: The mediating role of executive functions and emotionality


The current study examined whether young children's executive functions and emotionality are related to childcare experiences and whether they work as mediators explaining the associations between childcare experiences and early school outcomes. Findings from a national sample of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (N = 990) revealed that centre‐based care experiences and childcare quality positively predicted preschool children's executive functions, which then were linked to their academic skills and social skills in preschool and kindergarten years. Childcare hours were negatively related to executive functions. Further, childcare experiences did not predict children's emotionality, which was related to their social skills. Overall, childcare experiences, of higher quality, more structure and less hours, were modelled as predicting early school outcomes directly as well as indirectly through executive functioning.


  • A mediated model of childcare experiences and early school outcomes through executive functions and emotionality is proposed.
  • SEM analysis revealed that high‐quality, center‐type, and non‐excessive care experiences predicted executive functions, which then predicted academic and social outcomes, None of the childcare characteristics predicted emotionality while emotionality predicted social outcomes.
  • Executive functions can be stimulated by high‐quality, structured care experiences and need to be a target of early learning and intervention.

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