The Institute of Education's study found a correlation between mothers who believe it is important to teach their toddler the alphabet, to count, and read to them regularly and the child's achievement at the age of five.
The Government-commissioned study looked at the foundation stage profile, a teacher's assessment of a child's achievement after one year at school, and assessed the cognitive abilities of just over 8,000 five-year-olds.
It also used a questionnaire to assess each child's behaviour.
The study focused on which factors are associated with achievement at the age of five, and took into account "parental variables" such as how much time is spent with the child reading, teaching the alphabet and counting, watching television.
It concluded: "Reading to the child every day and having a mother who thinks it is important to stimulate young children are positively associated with all cognitive outcomes and negatively with problem behaviour." It said that reading to a child every day "appears to lower behavioural problems".
Children who were read to daily did better in the naming vocabulary test, which involved the children being shown a picture and asked to identify the object.
They also performed better in the foundation stage profiles and had higher behaviour scores.
Youngsters whose mothers thought it was important to talk to them and teach them the alphabet did better than their peers in a number of other tests, and also had better foundation stage profiles.
In contrast, on average, children who watch three or more hours of TV a day achieved lower scores on the tests. --By Nick Britten Last Updated: 10:11PM GMT 23 Dec 2008