The study, led by Professor Edward Melhuish from Birkbeck, University of London, has been published in the journal Science.
The experts examined the progress of children in the UK from the age of three or four up to 10, and measured it against various factors.
They ranked the children's "home learning environments" after interviewing their parents about how often they did various activities, such as reading stories, singing nursery rhymes and playing games involving numbers and shapes.
They included other possible factors which could influence a child's development such as gender and parents' income, occupation and education.
"The results indicated that home learning environment, pre-school effectiveness and primary school effectiveness all make separate, significant impacts," BBC quoted said Professor Melhuish.
"The mother's educational attainment is the strongest effect, there's no doubt about that, but home and school and pre-school environments are also important."
He said that the researchers found many examples where a mother's lower level of education was more than made up for by parents creating a good home learning environment through the activities they did with their children.
"And there are quite a few well-educated people who do not provide a good home learning environment," he added.