Child Care and Early Education Research Connections

Skip to main content

Is starting earlier better? A propensity score analysis of toddler-year impacts for English only and Spanish-speaking dual language learners


Most early care and education (ECE) programs serve 3-5 year olds, but enrolling children at younger ages has the potential to multiply the benefits of ECE enrollment. This study examined characteristics of children and family who enrolled as toddlers (18-35 months; n=450) versus preschoolers (36-48 months; n=2,356), then tested the impact of toddler enrollment in high-quality ECE on fall and spring preschool outcomes for English-only and Spanish dual language learners (DLLs). Groups were balanced using propensity score weights. Toddler enrollment was related differentially to parent education, special needs status, food insecurity, and single-parent household status for DLLs and English-dominant peers. Toddler entry was related to better English language skills (fall E.S.=0.13-0.47; spring E.S.=0.10-0.43) and lower teacher-rated self-control skills (fall E.S.=0.12-0.15; spring E.S.=0.12-0.19) than same language peers. English-only children who entered as toddlers were rated as more independent at preschool entry (E.S.=0.15). Differences were not observed in Spanish-language skills, child-teacher attachment, or behavior problems in preschool. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

Related resources include summaries, versions, measures (instruments), or other resources in which the current document plays a part. Research products funded by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation are related to their project records.

- You May Also Like

These resources share similarities with the current selection.

Factors associated with development of dual language learners: Results from a secondary analysis of the ECLS-B

Fact Sheets & Briefs

Language and literacy development in dual language learners: Annotated bibliographies from a critical review of the research

Fact Sheets & Briefs

Considerations for future research with young dual language learners

Fact Sheets & Briefs
Release: 'v1.58.0' | Built: 2024-04-08 08:44:34 EDT