Children vary widely in language and cognitive abilities when they arrive at kindergarten. This variation in language skills is positively associated with socioeconomic status (SES), and highly predictive of later literacy development and school success.
I have developed and pursued a research program aimed at further understanding the role of parent and family factors in child language development. My work is guided by a social-interactionist theoretical perspective, which emphasizes the important role that language experience plays in language development. My research program is focused around five related goals:
Understanding the features of caregivers’ communicative input that relate to language skills across early development
Understanding when SES differences in children’s language development emerge and how to prevent them from emerging
Understanding why parents from different backgrounds communicate in different ways with their children
Understanding predictors and consequences of child language growth within low-SES samples
Understanding effective ways to provide parents with information about child development
Taken together, this program of research has practical implications for early intervention as well as more theoretical implications for how children learn language from their interactions with others.