Early Childhood Education Journal

, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 239–249 | Cite as

Impact of Homelessness on School Readiness Skills and Early Academic Achievement: A Systematic Review of the Literature

  • Louis ManfraEmail author


A systematic review of research exploring the impact of homelessness on young children’s school readiness skills in preschool and academic performance in early elementary school is presented. Fourteen studies were identified that included data exploring this association in preschool through Grade 3. Findings indicated that children experiencing homelessness have lower school readiness skills and academic achievement compared to the general population of children. However, it was not conclusive whether children experiencing homelessness perform lower than socio-demographically matched housed children. Most large studies (> 4000 children) found children experiencing homelessness had lower academic performance than housed low-income children. However, fewer than half of small studies (< 300 children) found support for this association. Good school attendance, high quality parenting, self-regulation, and early education are among several potential protective factors discussed in the literature that may lessen the negative impact of homelessness on school readiness skills and academic achievement in early elementary school.


Homelessness School readiness Academic achievement Preschool Elementary school 



I would like to acknowledge and thank Kelly Moon Allison for her input and suggestions on an earlier draft.


This project has been funded (in part) by the Missouri Department of Social Services under a contract awarded to the University of Missouri.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


The contents do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Missouri Department of Social Services, nor does mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

Informed consent is not an element of review papers such as this because there are no participants from whom data are collected.


*Indicates the study was used in the systematic review

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human Development and Family ScienceUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA

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