Children whose parents take an active interest in their education from an early age are likely to make more progress than their peers.

New research suggests that getting mums and dads involved in their child's learning, such as encouraging them to read and talk together at home, can boost a youngster's progress by almost half a year.

Engaging parents before their son or daughter starts school is valuable and is likely to have an impact on their later academic success, according to a report published by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF).

The EEF's new Early Years Toolkit analyses evidence on methods of raising achievement among young children in a bid to help nurseries and pre-schools improve the learning of poor three and four-year-olds.

A previous study by the Sutton Trust, a social mobility charity, found that the poorest youngsters can be up to 19 months behind their wealthiest classmates when they start school at age five.

The latest findings show that on average, youngsters whose parents are involved in their learning make around five months extra progress over the course of a year.

Schemes to get mums and dads to take part in education could include encouraging parents to read and talk with their child at home, encouraging them to take part in activities with their child at nursery or offering classes in parenting skills.

"Parental engagement in early years education is consistently associated with children's academic success," the toolkit says.

It does add that the benefits of different parenting initiatives may vary.

Other schemes that boost a young child's progress include "self-regulation" - their ability to manage their own behaviour or learning. In the early years, this could include encouraging youngsters to improve their self control.

This type of strategy can boost a pre-schooler's progress by around seven months.

Children who start nursery before the age of three make an extra five months progress in a year, the report says, although it adds that the evidence on this is "insecure".

EEF chief executive Dr Kevan Collins said: "We hope that the Early Years Toolkit can be a starting point for evidence-informed decision-making in the early years. It doesn't attempt to tell people what to do it summarises research from England and around the world to provide information about the cost, evidence strength and average impact about a wide variety of approaches."

Steve Higgins, professor of education at Durham University, said: "We think evidence can help early years professionals with the important decisions they make every day, but know that it is often locked away in journals, or written in inaccessible jargon. We hope that the Early Years Toolkit helps bridge the divide between research and practice and leads to more effective early years provision for all children."