In the U.S., there are numerous ongoing efforts to remedy the word gap: massive differences in heard vocabulary for poor versus advantaged children during the first 5 years of life. One potentially important resource for vocabulary exposure is children's book reading sessions, which are more lexically diverse than standard caregiver-child conversations and have demonstrated significant correlational and causal influences on children's vocabulary development. Yet, nationally representative data suggest that around 25% of caregivers never read with their children. This study uses data from 60 commonly read children's books to estimate the number of words that children are exposed to during book reading sessions. Results showed that parents who read 1 picture book with their children every day provide their children with exposure to an estimated 78,000 words each a year. Cumulatively, over the 5 years before kindergarten entry, researchers estimate that children from literacy-rich homes hear a cumulative 1.4 million more words during storybook reading than children who are never read to. These results suggest that home-based shared book reading represents an important resource for closing the word gap.
When Children Are Not Read to at Home: The Million Word Gap
Many children in the United States enter kindergarten with limitations in their social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development that might have been significantly diminished or eliminated through early identification and attention to child and family needs. School readiness once was thought to be solely the function of the child and family with focus primarily on pre-academic skills. We now recognize that schools and communities also are responsible for school readiness, and that a child’s experiences from birth impact the social, emotional, physical and cognitive development needed for school success. Pediatricians have a significant role to play in school readiness. They have longstanding relationships with children and families that are established early and grow over time. In many instances, pediatricians are at the forefront of advocating for access to health care, home visitation, preschool mental health consultation, early literacy funding, quality early childhood programs and child care subsidies. In multiple ways, pediatricians are an integral link between children and their families to school and community programs that promote school readiness.
Learning across boundaries:how parents and teachers are bridging children’s interests
Lori Takeuchi, Sarah Vaala, and June Ahn. Learning across boundaries:how parents and teachers are bridging children’s interests. Spring 2019. The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Worksop. New York: New York.
When a young person discovers something that sparks an interest, opportunities to unlock even deeper levels of learning emerge as she becomes motivated to master her knowledge about a particular subject. This report presents findings from separate surveys of 1,550 U.S. parents and 600 pre-K–8 teachers on whether, to what extent, and how U.S. children ages 3–12 are linking their learning experiences across home, school, and community settings. The inquiry paid particular attention to the ways in which caregivers and teachers support and, in some cases, impede the development of young children’s interests and the learning associated with pursuing these interests. Focusing on differences across demographics, the developed environment, and socio-economic status while taking an equity perspective, findings highlight areas of weakness and strength in this ecosystem of connected learning, suggesting what we need to pay attention to if we are intent on facilitating seamless learning across boundaries.
English Reading Growth in Spanish‐Speaking Bilingual Students: Moderating Effect of English Proficiency on Cross‐Linguistic Influence
Jackie Eunjung Relyea, Steven J. Amendum. English Reading Growth in Spanish‐Speaking Bilingual Students: Moderating Effect of English Proficiency on Cross‐Linguistic Influence. Child Development, 2019; DOI: 10.1111/cdev.13288
This study found that children who had strong early reading skills in their native Spanish language when they entered kindergarten experienced greater growth in their ability to read English from kindergarten through fourth grade. When the researchers factored in how well the students spoke English, it turned out that native language reading skills mattered more — even at kindergarten entry — to the students' growth across time. These results indicate that children who had stronger Spanish reading skills upon entering kindergarten did better across time, even than their Spanish-speaking peers who were more fluent in speaking English but less proficient in reading Spanish. For parents, the message is simple: read to your children in whatever is your best language. The skills they learn from reading with you will translate in the classroom no matter what language you use.
Parent Education and Family Life Education: A Critical Link in Early Childhood Education Policy
Glen Palm and Betty Cooke. Parent Education and Family Life Education: A Critical Link in Early Childhood Education Policy. July 2018. National Council on Family Relations.
Research suggests that the most effective initiatives for positive outcomes for early childhood development include a focus on the whole family. By building the capacity of parents, instead of focusing exclusively on children's school readiness and academic success, greater impact is achieved in the child's early development. The brief further examines the research on parent education and Family Life Education and offers policy recommendations for implementing best practice parenting programs. An executive summary is also available.
A Multicomponent, Preschool to Third Grade Preventive Intervention and Educational Attainment at 35 Years of Age
Reynolds AJ, Ou S, Temple JA. A Multicomponent, Preschool to Third Grade Preventive Intervention and Educational Attainment at 35 Years of Age. JAMA Pediatrics. Published online January 29, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.4673
Students who participated in an intensive childhood education program from preschool to third grade were more likely to achieve an academic degree beyond high school, compared to a similar group that received other intervention services as children, with greater benefits for those whose mothers were high school dropouts. Researchers at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, followed the 30-year progress of 989 children who attended the Child-Parent Centers (CPC) program in inner-city Chicago as preschoolers. The CPC program provides intensive instruction in reading and math, combined with frequent educational field trips, from pre-kindergarten through third grade. The program also provides parents with job and parenting skills training, educational classes and social services. In addition, the program encouraged parents to volunteer in classrooms, assist with field trips and participate in parenting support groups.
Beyond the 30-Million-Word Gap: Children’s Conversational Exposure Is Associated With Language-Related Brain Function
Rachel R. Romeo, Julia A. Leonard, Sydney T. Robinson, Martin R. West, Allyson P. Mackey, Meredith L. Rowe, John D. E. Gabrieli. Beyond the 30-Million-Word Gap: Children’s Conversational Exposure Is Associated With Language-Related Brain Function. Psychological Science, February 14, 2018 https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797617742725
This study found that young 4-, 5- and 6-year-olds who engaged in more conversation at home had more brain activity and verbal aptitude while they were listening to a story and processing language. The hypothesis is that back-and-forth conversation may rewire the brain and cause it to grow — a hypothesis that will be tested in a future study. In the study, the benefits of conversation were just as strong for low-income children as they were for high-income children. Children who experienced high amounts of conversation scored 12 percent higher on standardized language assessments.
Reading Aloud, Play, and Social-Emotional Development
This study looked at the impacts on social-emotional development at school entry of a pediatric primary care intervention called the Video Interaction Project (VIP), promoting positive parenting through reading aloud and play, delivered in two phases: infant through toddler (VIP 0-3) and preschool-age (VIP 3-5). VIP 0-3 resulted in sustained impacts on behavior problems 1.5 years after program completion. VIP 3-5 had additional, independent impacts. The children whose families had participated in the intervention when they were younger were still less likely to manifest those behavior problems — aggression, hyperactivity, difficulty with attention. These results support the use of pediatric primary care to promote reading aloud and play from birth to 5 years, and the potential for such programs to enhance social-emotional development.
Parent Engagement Practices Improve Outcomes for Preschool Children
Bierman, K., Morris P., and Abenavoli R. Parent Engagement Practices Improve Outcomes for Preschool Children (February 2017). Princeton, NJ: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Children begin learning at home before they ever reach the classroom, but many families face barriers to providing high-quality early educational opportunities. This study outlines a number of research-based strategies to bolster parent engagement in ways that improve child outcomes. Two key findings: (2) Promoting home learning activities and effective teaching strategies can foster early learning and improve school readiness; and (2) Strengthening parent-teacher partnerships can boost academic and social-emotional skill development and promote academic success.
Child and Parenting Outcomes After 1 Year of Educare
Yazejian, N., Bryant, D. M., Hans, S., Horm, D., St. Clair, L., File, N. and Burchinal, M. (February 8, 2017), Child and Parenting Outcomes After 1 Year of Educare. Child Development. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12688
Educare is a birth to age 5 early education program designed to reduce the achievement gap between children from low-income families and their more economically advantaged peers through high-quality center-based programming and strong school–family partnerships. This study randomly assigned 239 children (< 19 months) from low-income families to Educare or a business-as-usual control group. Assessments tracked children 1 year after randomization. Results revealed significant differences favoring treatment group children on auditory and expressive language skills, parent-reported problem behaviors, and positive parent–child interactions. Effect sizes were in the modest to medium range. No effects were evident for observer-rated child behaviors or parent-rated social competence. The overall results add to the evidence that intervening early can set low-income children on more positive developmental courses.
Kids & Family Reading Report
Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report. New York: NY.
This biannual survey explores the reading attitudes and experiences that most influence children's reading habits, including reading aloud at home, independent reading at school, presence of books in the home, and more.
Early home learning environment predicts children’s 5th grade academic skills
Catherine S. Tamis-LeMonda, Rufan Luo, Karen E. McFadden, Eileen T. Bandel & Claire Vallotton. Early home learning environment predicts children’s 5th grade academic skills. Applied Developmental Science (August 2017) http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10888691.2017.1345634
Researchers from New York University studied more than 2,200 families enrolled in the Early Head Start Research Evaluation Project. They followed children from birth through 5th grade to determine the impact of early home-learning environments on later academic success. All of the children in the study came from low-income, ethnically diverse families. The researchers found that children whose parents engaged them in meaningful conversations and provided them with books and toys designed to increase learning were much more likely to develop early cognitive skills that led to later academic success. Children with a father in the home, adult parents versus teenage parents, and more-educated parents tended to have better environments for early learning.These findings were true across all ethnic/racial groups studied.
Relationships Between Home Literacy Practices and School Achievement: Implications for Consultation and Home–School Collaboration
Nicole Lynn Alston-Abel and Virginia Berninger. Relationships Between Home Literacy Practices and School Achievement: Implications for Consultation and Home–School Collaboration. Journal of Psychological and Educational Consultation, p 1-26, May 23, 2017. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10474412.2017.1323222
In a 5-year longitudinal study of typical literacy development (Grades 1–5 or 3–7), relationships were examined between (a) parental responses to questionnaires about home literacy activities and ratings of children’s self-regulation at home, both completed annually by the same parent, and (b) children’s reading and writing achievement assessed annually at the university. Higher reading and writing achievement correlated with engaging in more home literacy activities. Parental help or monitoring of home literacy activities was greater for low-achieving than for high-achieving readers or writers. Children engaged more minutes per week in reading than writing activities at home, but parents provided more help with writing and reported computers were used more for homework than for school literacy instruction. Parental ratings of self-regulation of attention remained stable, but executive functions — goal-setting, hyperactivity, and impulsivity — tended to improve. Results are translated into consultation tips for literacy learning and best professional practices.
Education inequalities at the school starting gate
Emma García and Elain Weiss. Education inequalities at the school starting gate: Gaps, trends, and strategies to address them. September 2017. Washington, D.C.: Economic Policy Institute.
Extensive research has conclusively demonstrated that children’s social class is one of the most significant predictors — if not the single most significant predictor — of their educational success. Moreover, it is increasingly apparent that performance gaps by social class take root in the earliest years of children’s lives and fail to narrow in the years that follow. That is, children who start behind stay behind — they are rarely able to make up the lost ground. The positive news is that the gaps have not grown, even as economic inequalities between these two groups of students have grown. The negative news is that the gaps have not narrowed, despite the fact that low-SES parents have substantially increased their engagement in their children’s early education.
Bringing Literacy Home: An Evaluation of the Every Child Ready to Read Program
Susan B. Neuman, Naomi Moland, and Donna Celano. Bringing Literacy Home: An Evaluation of the Every Child Ready to Read Program (November, 2017). Chicago: Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) and the Public Library Association (PLA)
This study revealed that libraries are taking a proactive approach toward engaging parents and caregivers supporting the early literacy development of their children, and the Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR) @ your library Program is an effective tool to ensure libraries’ success. Currently more than 6,000 libraries have invested in the ECRR Toolkit, which is used to implement ECRR in the library. ECRR is based on two core concepts: reading begins at birth, and parents are a child’s first and best teacher. The researchers observed significantly greater engagement of parents and caregivers in the libraries that used the ECRR program: these libraries offered more opportunities for parents and children to interact, more parents-only workshops, and more diverse program offerings.
Frameworks for Literacy Education Reform
International Literacy Association (2016) Frameworks for Literacy Education Reform [White paper]. Newark, DE
The central tenet of the white paper is that classroom literacy instruction should be grounded in rigorous, peer-reviewed research — not politics, ideology, or speculation. Rather than settling on a specific reform strategy, the white paper offers frameworks for use in drafting or evaluating reform proposals. The frameworks address four key education sectors: literacy learning and teachers; schools and schooling; student support; and families and communities. For each sector, the white paper offers a list of research-validated approaches to literacy advancement, which is designed to function as a rubric to inform, refine, and assess reform proposals. In addition, each framework includes a detailed list of supporting sources to facilitate exploration into the underlying research base.
Integrating Technology in Early Literacy: A Snapshot of Community Innovation in Family Engagement
Cook, S. (July 2016) Integrating Technology in Early Literacy: A Snapshot of Community Innovation in Family Engagement. Washington, D.C.: New America.
As a growing number of young children across the country are using media and interactive technology on a daily basis, the conversation has shifted from whether technology is appropriate to use at all to how it should be used to best support children’s early language and literacy development. This brief analyzes the impact of early learning and family engagement programs around the country. The Integrating Technology in Early Literacy (InTEL) map, available through New America’s Atlas tool, has been updated to show where innovative programs are located, how the programs are designed, and what “evidence of impact” they are able to share.
Recent Trends in Income, Racial, and Ethnic School Readiness Gaps at Kindergarten Entry
This study found that low-income kindergarten students have reversed the trend of growing academic achievement gaps between them and their higher-income peers. Academic achievement gaps grew from the 1970s to the 1990s, but from 1998 to 2010 the gaps shrank 10-16%. During this time frame, the White-Hispanic kindergarten readiness gap and the White-Black gap each dropped. Researchers attributed the improved preparedness, in part, to low-income parents spending significantly more time reading to their children, taking them to museums, and introducing them to educational games on computers. Despite the narrowing of these readiness gaps, they remain large and, in fact, progress is so slow that at the rate that improvements are occurring, it will take at least 60 years for disparities to be eliminated.
Public Libraries: A Vital Space for Family Engagement
Lopez, M. Elena, Caspe, Margaret & McWilliams, L. (2016). Public Libraries: A Vital Space for Family Engagement. Family Involvement Network of Educators (FINE), Volume VIII, Issue 3.
The Harvard Family Research Project and the Public Library Association explore what family engagement is, the research behind why families matter for children’s learning, and why libraries matter for family engagement. The rich digital and hands-on resources libraries offer, especially when guided by librarians, can help families steer, guide, and support learning. The report highlights five actions that libraries are taking to engage all families in children’s learning from early childhood and throughout the school years. These five areas include reaching out, raising up, reinforcing, relating, and reimagining.
Case Studies of Schools Implementing Early Elementary Strategies: Preschool Through Third Grade Alignment and Differentiated Instruction
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, Policy and Program Studies Service, Case Studies of Schools Implementing Early Elementary Strategies: Preschool Through Third Grade Alignment and Differentiated Instruction, Washington, DC, 2016.
To explore how educators might build on and sustain the positive effects of preschool, this study examined two types of strategies that preliminary literature searches revealed as promising practices to support children’s learning in early elementary school: (1) aligning instruction from preschool through grade 3 (referred to as P–3 alignment) and (2) differentiated instruction. To explore how educators use these two strategies, this study conducted a systematic literature review followed by case studies of five programs that used one or both of these two strategies. Key findings: (1) All five case study programs aligned instruction across grades by aligning or coordinating standards, curricula, instructional practices, and professional development; three sites also used aligned assessments. (2) Common elements of P–3 programs included the use of professional learning communities, coaches, parent engagement, and play-based or student-initiated learning. (3) Teachers in all five programs reported using strategies to accommodate students’ different skill levels, including modifying assignments, adapting learning materials, providing different levels of support, or using small-group instruction. (4) All five programs focused on increasing students’ vocabulary, oral language, and social-emotional skills.
Kids & Family Reading Report: 5th Edition
Scholastic (2015) Kids & Family Reading Report: 5th Edition. New York: NY.
This biannual survey explores the reading attitudes and experiences that most influence children's reading habits, including reading aloud at home, independent reading at school, presence of books in the home, and more. Findings from the 2014 survey show that just over 1,000 children ages 6 to 17, only 31 percent said they read a book for fun almost daily, down from 37 percent four years ago. The report asks what makes children frequent readers, creating two models for predicting children's reading frequency-one each among kids ages 6–11 and 12–17-constructed through a regression analysis of more than 130 data measures from the survey. Across both groups, three powerful predictors that children will be frequent readers include: (1) the child's reading enjoyment; (2) parents who are frequent readers; and (3) the child's belief that reading for fun is important.
Fathers' Language Input During Shared Book Activities: Links to Children's Kindergarten Achievement
Baker, C. E., Vernon-Feagans, L., & the Family Life Project Investigators. (2015) Fathers' language input during shared book activities: Links to children's kindergarten achievement. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 36, 53-59.
How much fathers talk to young children has a direct positive effect on their kindergarten performance. This study used data from the Family Life Project to examine predictive relations between fathers' and mothers' language input during a wordless picture book task in the home just before kindergarten entry and children's letter — word identification, picture vocabulary, and applied problems scores at the end of kindergarten. Analysis revealed that mothers' talk ("mean length of utterance") predicted children's applied problems scores. More importantly, fathers' mean length of utterance predicted children's vocabulary and applied problems scores above and beyond mothers' language. Findings highlight the unique contribution of fathers to children's early academic achievement. Implications for future research, practice, and policy are discussed.
Differing Cognitive Trajectories of Mexican American Toddlers: The Role of Class, Nativity, and Maternal Practices
Fuller, B., Bein, E., Kim, Y., and Rabe-Hesketh, S. (2015) Differing Cognitive Trajectories of Mexican American Toddlers: The Role of Class, Nativity, and Maternal Practices, Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences 20 February 2015.
This study revealed that Latino toddlers whose language comprehension is roughly similar to white peers at 9 months old fall significantly behind by the time they are two years old. The study found that four-fifths of the nation's Mexican American toddlers lagged three to five months behind whites in preliteracy skills, oral language and familiarity with print materials. Mothers of toddlers who fell behind were more likely to be foreign-born, low-income and less educated. They were also less likely to read to their children daily or give them as much praise and encouragement as those whose children kept pace with white peers.s. Although earlier studies have shown that Latino children are raised with emotional warmth and develop social skills on par with others when they enter kindergarten, the new research found they are not receiving sufficient language and literacy skills at home
The Case for a Two-Generation Approach for Educating English Language Learners
Ross, T. (May 2015). The Case for a Two-Generation Approach for Educating English Language Learners. Washington, D.C.: The Center for American Progress.
This report provides an overview of the ELL population in the United States; explains why a two-generation approach is a valuable strategy to improve English proficiency and the economic well-being of families and communities; and presents case studies of promising approaches for educating ELL students and parents while providing critical wraparound services to enhance the learning process.
Read for Success: Combating the Summer Learning Slide in America
Reading Is Fundamental (May 2015), Read for Success: Combating the Summer Learning Slide in America. Washington, D.C.
This research study set out to test and confirm the efficacy of a new model to reduce summer learning loss in children from economically disadvantaged communities. Researchers found that, on average, 57% of students improved their reading proficiency, instead of 80% of children showing loss.Nearly half of students in third grade — a critical grade for literacy skill building — increased reading proficiency. As part of the study, RIF distributed over 760,000 books to 33,000 children from 173 schools across 16 states. The program included science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) themed books for classrooms and media centers, as well as books for children to select and keep for themselves. RIF also provided training for teachers on how to use the classroom books to support their lessons, gave special resources to parents to help them support their children at home, and every school was given funds to use for further enrichment.
Mapping the Early Attendance Gap
Chang, H., Jordan, P., Davis, R., Bishop, M., and Mays, A. (September 2015). Mapping the Early Attendance Gap: Charting a Course for School Success. Attendance Works (San Francisco, CA) and Healthy Schools Campaign (Chicago, IL).
This report shows how disparities in school attendance rates starting as early as preschool and kindergarten are contributing to achievement gaps and high school dropout rates across the country. The report also highlights connection between health and attendance and the power of states to tackle absenteeism by tapping key champions, leveraging data, and learning from places that have improved attendance despite challenging conditions.
Print-related practices in low-income Latino homes and preschoolers’ school-readiness outcomes
Schick, A.R., Melzi, G. Print-related practices in low-income Latino homes and preschoolers’ school-readiness outcomes, Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, July 5, 2015. doi: 10.1177/1468798415592009
This study examined literacy practices in the homes of 127 low-income Latino preschoolers enrolled in bilingual preschool classrooms. Researchers investigated the print-related practices that Latino primary caregivers engaged in with their preschool-aged children at the start of the school year and explored the relation between these practices and children’s language, literacy, and social–emotional school-readiness outcomes at the end of the preschool year. The results demonstrate the importance of print – including books and non-book-related environmental print – for Latino preschool children’s development of early literacy and self-regulation skills. In addition, the results highlight that when sharing picture books with their children, low-income Latino caregivers provided the majority of the information to their children, and ask few questions of them, thereby adopting a sole-narrator participatory role.
Association of the Type of Toy Used During Play With the Quantity and Quality of Parent-Infant Communication
Researchers gave families three different kinds of toys to play with: books, traditional toys like stacking blocks and a shape sorter, and electronic toys. Results indicated that play with electronic toys is associated with decreased quantity and quality of language input compared with play with books or traditional toys. To promote early language development, play with electronic toys should be discouraged. Traditional toys may be a valuable alternative for parent-infant play time if book reading is not a preferred activity. Blocks and puzzles stimulated more conversation than the electronic toys, and books outscored them all.
Learning at Home: Families' Educational Media Use in America
Rideout, V. Learning at Home: Families’ Educational Media Use in America (2014) Joan Ganz Cooney Center
This comprehensive analysis of parents' experiences with the educational media their children use tries to answer the following questions: Which subjects do parents feel their children are learning the most about from media? Which platforms do they perceive as being most effective? And what are some of the obstacles to greater use of educational media? All of these issues are explored by age, gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. The report measures the degree to which children and parents use media together, overall and by platform, and looks at how this joint media engagement changes as children get older. The study also examines children's reading behaviors, especially online or on electronic reading devices.
The Power of Parents
Thigpen, D., Freedberg, L. and Frey, S. (2014) The Power of Parents: Research underscores the impact of parent involvement in schools. EdSource and New America Media
This report looks at research showing that parent involvement in their children's school is associated with a range of positive outcomes for students, including greater academic success, improved attitudes toward school, and a reduction in at-risk behavior. The research also shows that parent involvement leads to more teacher satisfaction.
Culture Counts: Engaging Black and Latino Parents of Young Children in Family Support Programs
Shannon Moodie, Manica Ramos (2014) Culture Counts: Engaging Black and Latino Parents of Young Children in Family Support Programs. Child Trends: Bethesda, MD.
This report provides an overview of family support programs and aims to identify the features and strategies that may be most effective for reaching and engaging black and Latino families, with the ultimate goal of supporting young children’s development. The report presents a synthesis of available research on parent engagement — as well as potential barriers to their engagement — in family support services and programs, and recommendations, for both policymakers and practitioners, for designing, adapting, and evaluating culturally-relevant family support programs and services.
Screen Sense: Setting the Record Straight. Research-Based Guidelines for Screen Use for Children Under 3 Years Old
Lerner, C.; Barr, R. (2014) Screen Sense: Setting the Record Straight. Research-Based Guidelines for Screen Use for Children Under 3 Years Old Zero to Three: Washington, D.C.
This resource—developed in partnership with leading researchers in the field of media and young children — describes what is known about the effect of screen media on young
children’s learning and development. Rich, interactive experiences between parent and child are the most beneficial for babies and toddlers. The report warns that many of the the "2-D" experiences provided by TV, tablets, and smartphones don't provide the kind of social interaction and real-world learning that proves especially beneficial to infants and toddlers — unless parents are engaged in that activity.
Association of a Full-Day vs Part-Day Preschool Intervention With School Readiness, Attendance, and Parent Involvement
Reynolds AJ, Richardson BA, Hayakawa M, et al. Association of a Full-Day vs Part-Day Preschool Intervention With School Readiness, Attendance, and Parent Involvement. Journal of the American Medical Association 2014; 312 (20): 2126-2134.
In an expansion of the Child-Parent Center Education Program (CPC) in Chicago, a full-day preschool intervention was associated with increased school readiness skills CPC is a school-based public program with strong evidence of benefits. Implemented in the Chicago Public Schools since 1967, the program provides comprehensive education and family services beginning in preschool. Cohort studies have found that participation has helped eliminate the achievement gap in school readiness and performance; reduced rates of child maltreatment, remedial education, and crime; and increased rates of high school graduation and economic well-being. Benefits exceed costs by a ratio of 7 to 1. A scale-up of the CPC program began in 2012 in more diverse communities. The model was revised to incorporate advances in teaching practices and family services and included the opening of full-day preschool classrooms in some sites.
The Joy and Power of Reading: A Summary of Research and Expert Opinion
Bridges, L. (2014) The Joy and Power of Reading: A Summary of Research and Expert Opinion. New York: Scholastic.
This summary of research and expert opinion highlights the importance of reading volume, stamina and independent reading and how that builds comprehension, background knowledge, vocabulary and fluency skills. The report also discusses the value of reader choice and variety in developing motivation and confidence; guided reading and interactive read alouds in schools; and reading aloud plus talk at home.
One Step at a Time: The Effects of an Early Literacy Text Messaging Program for Parents of Preschoolers
Benjamin N. York and Susanna Loeb (November 2014). One Step at a Time: The Effects of an Early Literacy Text Messaging Program for Parents of Preschoolers. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper 20659.
In this study, researchers evaluated the effects of READY4K!, a text messaging program for parents of preschoolers designed to help them support their children’s literacy development. The program targets the behavioral barriers to good parenting by breaking down the complexity of parenting into small steps that are easy-to-achieve and providing continuous support for an entire school year. Results showed that READY4K! positively affected the extent to which parents engaged in home literacy activities with their children. Increases in parental activity at home and school translated into student learning gains in some areas of early literacy. The widespread use, low cost, and ease of scalability of text messaging make texting an attractive approach to supporting parenting practices.
Talking to Children Matters: Early Language Experience Strengthens Processing and Builds Vocabulary
Weisleder, A. & Fernald, A. (2013). Talking to children matters: Early language experience strengthens processing and builds vocabulary. Psychological Science, November 2013 24: 2143-2152.
In this study, researchers explored how the amount of speech directed to infants in Spanish-speaking families low in socioeconomic status influenced the development of children’s skill in real-time language processing and vocabulary learning. Results showed that children who had experienced more child-directed speech were more efficient at processing language. The analyses revealed a cascade of effects — those toddlers who heard more child-directed talk became faster and more reliable in interpreting speech, and it was their superior skill in processing language that then increased their success in vocabulary learning. An important finding was that even within a low-SES group there were substantial differences among parents in verbal engagement with their children and in children's language outcomes.
The Impact of Family Involvement on the Education of Children Ages 3 to 8
Van Voorhis, F.L., Maier, M., Epstein, J.L., and Lloyd, C.M. The Impact of Family Involvement on the Education of Children Ages 3 to 8 (October 2013) New York City: MDRC
This report reviews 95 studies on how families’ involvement in children’s learning and development through activities at home and at school affects the literacy, mathematics, and social-emotional skills of children. The review also offers recommendations for additional lines of inquiry and discusses next steps in research and practice.
Technology in Early Education: Building Platforms for Connections and Content that Strengthen Families and Promote Success in School
Guernsey, L. (2012). technology in early education: Building platforms for connections and content that strengthen families and promote success in school. The Progress of Education Reform, 14(4), 7-14.
This report looks at trends in digital media use by young children, how to effectively use parents and librarians as partners in early learning, and recommendations for building integrated technology platforms for early education.
Approaches to Parental Involvement for Improving the Academic Performance of Elementary School Age Children
Nye, C., Turner, H. M. & Schwartz, J. B. (2006) Approaches to Parental Involvement for Improving the Academic Performance of Elementary School Age Children. University of Central Florida Center for Autism and Related Disabilities.
The purpose of this review was to summarize the most dependable evidence on the effect of parental involvement for improving the academic performance of elementary school age children in grades K-6. This review found that parent involvement had a positive and significant effect on children's overall academic performance. The effect was educationally meaningful and large enough to have practical implications for parents, family involvement practitioners, and policymakers. When parents participated in academic enrichment activities with their children outside of school for an average of less than 12 weeks, children demonstrated an equivalent of 4 to 5 months improvement in reading or math performance.
Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Child-Parent Center Early Education Program
Reynolds, A. J., Temple, J. A., White, B. A., Ou, S., & Robertson, D. L. (2011). Cost-benefit analysis of the Child-Parent Center early education program. Child Development, 82, 379-404.
Children who attended an intensive preschool and family support program attained higher educational levels, were more likely to be employed, and less likely to have problems with the legal system than were peers who did not attend the program, according to a study funded by the NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). The Child-Parent Center (CPC) early education program is a large-scale, federally funded intervention providing services for disadvantaged 3- to 9-year-olds in Chicago. The researchers identified five key principles of the CPC that they say led to its effectiveness, including providing services that are of sufficient length or duration, are high in intensity and enrichment, feature small class sizes and teacher-student ratios, are comprehensive in scope, and are implemented by well-trained and well-compensated staff.
Head Start and the Changing Demographics of Young Children
Golden, O. (2011). Head start and the changing demographics of young children. NHSA Dialog, 14(1).
Head Start and Early Head Start programs have always understood that high-quality services are grounded in a thorough understanding of the children and families in their communities. And the portrait of our nation's children is changing rapidly. Results from the 2010 Census show a dramatic change in the racial and ethnic composition of children, particularly increases in Hispanic and Asian children and declines in white children (and a slight decline nationally in the number of black children). Other recent national surveys show a sharp increase in the proportion of children, and young children in particular, whose parents are immigrants. Based on these trends and recent Urban Institute research, this paper makes four recommendations about how local Head Start practitioners can best meet the needs of today's young children and their families.
Trajectories of the Home Learning Environment Across the First 5 Years: Associations With Children's Vocabulary and Literacy Skills at Prekindergarten
Rodriguez, Eileen; Tamis-LeMonda, Catherine S. (2011) Trajectories of the Home Learning Environment Across the First 5 Years: Associations With Children's Vocabulary and Literacy Skills at Prekindergarten. Child Development 82(4).
A study that looked at the home environments of more than 1,850 children from households at or below the federal poverty line showed that factors such as levels of shared reading, exposure to frequent and varied adult speech, and access to children's books had an impact on school readiness skills. "As a parent, it is never too early to engage your child in learning," said Amber Story, a social psychologist and deputy director of the National Science Foundation's Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences, which funded the study. "This research suggests that the degree to which parents read and talk to their infant; point and label objects in the environment; and provide engaging books and toys when their child is only 15 months old can have long-lasting effects on the infant's language skills years later."
Age 26 Cost–Benefit Analysis of the Child-Parent Center Early Education Program
Using data collected up to age 26 in the Chicago Longitudinal Study, this cost–benefit analysis of the Child-Parent Centers (CPC) is the first for a sustained publicly funded early intervention. The program provides services for low-income families beginning at age 3 in 20 school sites. Kindergarten and school-age services are provided up to age 9 (third grade). Findings from a complete cohort of over 1,400 program and comparison group participants indicated that the CPCs had economic benefits in 2007 dollars that exceeded costs. The preschool program provided a total return to society of $10.83 per dollar invested (18% annual return). The primary sources of benefits were increased earnings and tax revenues and averted criminal justice system costs. The school-age program had a societal return of $3.97 per dollar invested (10% annual return). Findings provide strong evidence that sustained programs can contribute to well-being for individuals and society.
Family Involvement in School and Low-Income Children's Literacy Performance
Dearing, E., Kreider, H., Simpkins, S., and Weiss, H. (January 2007). Family involvement in school and low-income children's literacy performance (Family Involvement Research Digest). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Family Research Project.
A groundbreaking study links increases in family involvement to increases in children's achievement.
National Middle School Association, (2006). Parent involvement.
See current research on parent involvement and student achievement outcomes.
Parental Involvement and Student Achievement: A Meta-Analysis
Jeynes, W. H. (2005). Parental involvement and student achievement: A meta-analysis (Family Involvement Research Digest). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Family Research Project.
A meta-analysis of 77 parent involvement research studies.
Family Literacy: A Review of Programs and Critical Perspectives
Caspe, M. (2003). Family literacy: A review of programs and critical perspectives (Family Involvement Research Digest). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Family Research Project.
For over 20 years educational policies have promoted family literacy programs in schools and community-based organizations. In this research review, the authors define family literacy; describe critical perspectives on family literacy programs; draw out the guiding program principles they suggest; and illustrate how these principles are implemented in three different programs.
A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement
Henderson, A. T. and Mapp, K. L. (2002). A new wave of evidence: The impact of school, family, and community connections on student achievement. National Center for Family and Community Connections with Schools, Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.
This research synthesis examines key issues in the field of family and community connections with schools. It is a synthesis of 51 studies about the impact of family and community involvement on student achievement, and effective strategies to connect schools, families and community.
What Research Says About Parent Involvement in Children's Education
Michigan Department of Education (2002). What research says about parent involvement in children's education.
This fact sheet highlights the relationship between parent involvement and academic achievement and references Joyce L. Epstein's six types of parent involvement.
Effective Schools and Accomplished Teachers: Lessons About Primary-Grade Reading Instruction in Low-Income Schools
Taylor, B.M., Pearson, P.D., Clark, K.M., & Walpole, S. (2000). Effective schools and accomplished teachers: Lessons about primary-grade reading instruction in low-income schools. The Elementary School Journal, 101, 121-165.
This study investigated school and classroom factors related to primary-grade reading achievement in schools with moderate to high numbers of students on subsidized lunch. Fourteen schools across the U.S. and two teachers in each of grades K-3 participated. A combination of school and teacher factors, many of which were intertwined, was found to be important in the most effective schools. Statistically significant school factors included strong links to parents, systematic assessment of pupil progress, and strong building communication and collaboration. A collaborative model for the delivery of reading instruction, including early reading interventions, was a hallmark of the most effective schools. Statistically significant teacher factors included time spent in small-group instruction, time spent in independent reading, high levels of student on-task behavior, and strong home communication. More of the most accomplished teachers and teachers in the most effective schools supplemented explicit phonics instruction with coaching in which they taught students strategies for applying phonics to their everyday reading. Additionally, more of the most accomplished teachers and teachers in the most effective schools employed higher-level questions in discussions of text, and the most accomplished teachers were more likely to ask students to write in response to reading. In all of the most effective schools, reading was clearly a priority at both the school and classroom levels.
Beating the Odds in Teaching All Children to Read
Taylor, B., Pearson, P., Clark, K., & Walpole, S. (1999). Beating the odds in teaching all children to read. CIERA Report 2-006. University of Michigan: Ann Arbor.
What schoolwide practices characterize schools in which at-risk learners are beating the odds? What instructional practices are used by the most accomplished primary-grade teachers and by teachers in the most effective schools? The authors used quantitative and descriptive methods to investigate school and classroom factors related to primary-grade reading achievement. Fourteen schools across the U.S. with moderate to high numbers of students on subsidized lunch were identified as most, moderately, or least effective based on several measures of reading achievement in the primary grades. A combination of school and teacher factors, many of which were intertwined, was found to be important in the most effective schools. Statistically significant school factors included strong links to parents, systematic assessment of pupil progress, strong building communication, and a collaborative model for the delivery of reading instruction, including early reading interventions. In all of the most effective schools, reading was clearly a priority at both the building and classroom level.
Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experiences of Young American Children
Hart, B. and Risley, T. (1995). Meaningful differences in the everyday experiences of young American children. Brookes Publishing Company
The landmark longitudinal study of parent-child talk in families. The researchers recorded one full hour of every word spoken at home between parent and child in 42 families over a three year period, with children from seven months to 36 months of age. Follow-up studies by Hart and Risley of those same children at age nine showed that there was a very tight link between the academic success of a child and the number of words the child's parents spoke to the child to age three. See summary
Ways With Words: Language, Life and Work in Communities and Classrooms
Heath, S.B. (1983). Ways with words: Language, life and work in communities and classrooms. Cambridge University Press.
This book is a classic study of children learning to use language at home and at school in two communities only a few miles apart in the southeastern United States. 'Roadville' is a white working-class community of families steeped for generations in the life of textile mills; 'Trackton' is a black working-class community whose older generations grew up farming the land but whose current members work in the mills. In tracing the children's language development the author shows the deep cultural differences between the two communities, whose ways with words differ as strikingly from each other as either does from the pattern of the townspeople, the mainstream blacks and whites who hold power in the schools and workplaces of the region. Employing the combined skills of ethnographer, social historian, and teacher, the author raises fundamental questions about the nature of language development, the effects of literacy on oral language habits, and the sources of communication problems in schools and workplaces.
Families Matter: Designing Media for a Digital Age
Takeuchi, L. M. Families matter: Designing media for a digital age. New York: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.
A new report from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, focuses on two complementary studies that document how families with young children are integrating digital media into the rhythm of daily life. Results from a survey of more than 800 parents of children ages 3 through 10 reveal how parents nationwide feel about raising children in a digital age. In-depth case studies provide further insight into these statistics, probing how parent attitudes toward technology, along with family values, routines, and structures, are shaping young children's experiences using digital media.