Individual factors predictive of preschoolers' word learning

Individual factors predictive of preschoolers' word learning

First Author: Lindsey Peters-Sanders -- University of South Florida
Additional authors/chairs: 
Michael Barker; Howard Goldstein
Keywords: early childhood (age 4 - 6), Preschool, Vocabulary, prevention of reading disabilities, early identification
Abstract / Summary: 

Vocabulary knowledge is one of the most important predictors of reading comprehension. Although vocabulary knowledge is an important component of emergent literacy skills, preschool vocabulary is not typically a target of instruction and varies greatly in early childhood classrooms. The current lack of vocabulary instruction at the preschool level results in a widening achievement gap among a diverse group of at-risk children. A student who struggles to acquire vocabulary will in turn be at risk for developing reading disabilities. The key to the prevention of reading disabilities is improved prediction of these children combined with early interventions focusing on language-related outcomes. To aid in the early identification and intervention process, we must examine the factors related to at-risk preschoolers’ vocabulary development. The purpose of this study is to investigate the child, family, and classroom-level factors that relate to the vocabulary learning of 112 preschool children. A secondary data analysis was conducted using the results of an investigation examining the effects of a supplemental preschool vocabulary program. Structural equation modeling (SEM) revealed significant relations between child, family, and classroom-level factors and word learning including the child’s language skills and classroom environment. The family’s socioeconomic status related significantly with both the child’s language skills and the classroom environment, but not directly to word learning. Understanding the individual factors that are most related to preschoolers’ word learning will aid in the development of effective strategies to enhance young children’s vocabulary acquisition.