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Relationships between contextual characteristics, parent implementation, and child outcome within an academic preventive intervention for preschoolers

Courtney N Baker, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Many young children struggle with becoming proficient readers. As a result, these children are more likely to experience academic underachievement or failure. Shared reading has been clearly linked to the development of the pre-literacy and language skills necessary for school readiness and academic achievement. Dialogic reading (Whitehurst et al., 1988) is known to be one of the state-of-the art interventions targeting this process, and research has shown that when parents implement dialogic reading at home it may be even more effective than when it is implemented at preschool centers. However, recent findings suggest that parent-implemented dialogic reading works least well for children at high-risk for early language and literacy deficits (Mol, Bus, de Jong, & Smeets, 2008). Little is known about which children within this high-risk group fail to benefit from dialogic reading, or about why dialogic reading is less effective for these children. The goal of this study is to address these questions within an effectiveness trial of an at-home, parent-implemented dialogic reading intervention for preschoolers. Within a group of children who participated in the dialogic reading intervention, children with dual parents, richer home learning environments, parents reporting fewer depressive symptoms, and more externalizing behavior problems were likely to demonstrate the most improvement on language and pre-literacy scores over the course of the intervention. Hypothesized relationships between SES, parent involvement in school, parent discipline style, and child outcomes were not supported by this study, while findings regarding the relationship between parent social support and child outcomes were contradictory between outcome measures. This study also examined correlates of parent implementation of the intervention and found that socioeconomic advantage, dual parent families, increased parent social support, richer home learning environments, greater parent involvement in school, fewer parent depressive symptoms, and decreased child externalizing behavior problems were associated with greater parent implementation as predicted. The hypothesized relationship between parent discipline style and implementation was not found. This study failed to find support for predicted relationships between parent implementation and child outcomes. Finally, this study also replicated all analyses within a population of high-risk families; similar patterns were found for the low-SES subgroup.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Baker, Courtney N, "Relationships between contextual characteristics, parent implementation, and child outcome within an academic preventive intervention for preschoolers" (2010). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3427496.