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Quality of Childcare Program Affects Language Development

natural environment.

“These results suggest that policymakers and educators should promote smaller teacher/child ratios and teacher classes in child development to promote better language interactions between young children and their caregivers,” Vernon-Feagans said. “Parental income and education were not factors in this research. It was the quality of care that was related to children’s language development.”

Each child was videotaped at ages 18 months, 2 years and 3 years while playing in a separate room with a familiar adult. Children had 15 minutes of free play with a snack break halfway through. The snack was designed to encourage common food-related words from the child.

Researchers transcribed and analyzed the tapes for syntax and semantics. Indicators included number and types of questions asked; number and types of pronouns used; number and types of negative words used; number and types of bound morphemes (prefixes and suffixes such as –s, ing, -ed, -er, and pre-); average number of words used per utterance; and number and variety of words.

Because frequent ear infections might impact language delay, children were examined weekly by a pediatric nurse to rule out infections. All children were tested repeatedly through the three-year study. None were eliminated due to sensori-neural hearing loss and there were no effects of chronic ear infections on the basic language constructs measured in this study.

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