Maternal education and Siblings: Agents of cognitive development in kindergarten

David MUÑEZ, Rebecca BULL, Kerry LEE

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7 Citations (Scopus)


In this study (n = 1000, Mage at K1entry = 53.4 months, SD = 3.4; 53% females), we investigated the contributions of the family socioeconomic status (SES; maternal education and an income-related measure) and number and age of siblings to the development of children's math, reading, and working memory (WM) updating skills over the kindergarten years. Results from a multivariate multilevel growth curve model showed that children from more disadvantaged SES backgrounds already had a multifaceted developmental lag at kindergarten entry. Maternal education was the aspect of SES that more clearly affected the child's cognitive development; the mother's education predicted children's math, reading, and WM-Updating skills at kindergarten entry as well as the rate of development of reading skills over the kindergarten years. Independently of SES status, children with more siblings also showed poorer reading and math skills than those in one-child families at kindergarten entry. We also found that both older and younger siblings affected, negatively, children's reading skills before they attended kindergarten—which suggests that the development of reading skills is more responsive to environmental factors during the first years than other aspects of the child development. The findings underscore the independent role of siblings upon entry to kindergarten, and the enduring role of maternal education even after children are exposed to formal schooling. Copyright © 2021 This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13218
JournalDevelopmental Science
Issue number4
Early online date29 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


Muñez, D., Bull, R., & Lee, K. (2022). Maternal education and Siblings: Agents of cognitive development in kindergarten. Developmental Science, 25(4). Retrieved from


  • Socioeconomic status
  • Kindergarten
  • Academic achievement
  • Cognitive development
  • Siblings


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