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Promoting Language and Literacy in Early Childhood Care and Education Settings

Publication Date: April 2004

The foundation for life-long literacy is established during the early childhood years. Emergent literacy and language acquisition skills precede the ability to read and write and influence later literacy skills development. Young children who develop an awareness of and interest in literature and language are more likely to enter school with increased early literacy skills and to experience academic success in later years.

This brief summarizes Promoting language and literacy in early childhood care and education settings: Literature review (Halle, Calkins, Berry, & Johnson, 2003, see www.childcareresearch.org/location/ccrca2796), a more extensive review of research on programs to promote language and emergent literacy in early childhood care and education settings for children ages three to five. The literature review focused on ‘targeted interventions,’ that is, programs designed
specifically and exclusively to enhance children’s language and literacy development, as well as on ‘comprehensive interventions,’ that is, programs that include a language and early literacy component but aim to improve multiple developmental outcomes by offering additional services (e.g., home visits, parent support groups, pediatric check-ups) sometimes starting in infancy, and usually running for longer periods of time than targeted interventions. Examples of comprehensive interventions are the High/Scope Perry Preschool Study, the Infant Health and Development Program, the Abecedarian Project, the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project, and the Chicago Child Parent Center and Expansion Program. The review only selected studies that followed rigorous empirical research designs and were published in peer-reviewed journals. A table summarizing the studies cited in the larger review is located at www.childcareresearch.org/location/ccrca2797.