The language and literacy development of Head Start children: a study using the Family and Child Experiences Survey database

Lang Speech Hear Serv Sch. 2010 Jan;41(1):70-83. doi: 10.1044/0161-1461(2009/08-0050). Epub 2009 Nov 30.


Purpose: This article provides information about the Head Start Family and Children Experiences Survey (FACES). It also presents the findings of a study that capitalizes on the strengths of the data from FACES to investigate the impact of child and family characteristics, speech-language impairment, and the home literacy environment on the language and early literacy outcomes of children from low-income families.

Method: Data from the FACES 1997 cohort were used in this study. Variables included in the analysis were child and family characteristics (e.g., age, gender, ethnicity, etc.); parent report of speech-language impairment; frequency of home literacy activities; and children's scores on vocabulary, letter-word identification, and early reading assessments.

Results: The results revealed that children's vocabulary abilities in Head Start were affected by maternal education, ethnicity, and the frequency of home literacy activities, and children's letter-word identification abilities were impacted by maternal education and the child's gender and age. Additionally, children's reading abilities in kindergarten were predicted by ethnicity, speech-language impairment, and the home literacy environment, as well as by children's vocabulary and letter-word identification abilities in Head Start.

Conclusion: The findings demonstrate the unique contributions that the home literacy environment and the presence of speech-language impairment during preschool make in children's early reading outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Child Language*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Continental Population Groups
  • Databases, Factual
  • Early Intervention, Educational*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language Development
  • Language Disorders
  • Language Tests
  • Male
  • Parents
  • Reading*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Speech Disorders
  • United States