December 6, 2019 – Volume 18, Issue 44

Hot Topics
Reading to Young Children, Infants Boosts Their Vocabulary
Shared reading between parents and very young children, including infants, is associated with stronger vocabulary skills for nearly all children by age 3, say physicians at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. According to research published in The Journal of Pediatrics, this is true also for children who genetically may be vulnerable to barriers in learning, attention and behavior development.
The children in the study were tested as part of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, which examined the development of children born to unmarried families who were at greater risk of living in poverty.
The study assessed the difference in vocabulary skill development based on genetic differences in two neurotransmitter systems that have implications in learning development, memory and impulse control.
Researchers found that shared reading with children at 1 year old was associated with higher vocabulary scores on a standardized assessment at age 3, in line with previous published studies. Children with genetic variations that put them at-risk fared just as well as their peers on the assessment when shared reading was conducted at age 1. However, at-risk children who were not exposed to shared reading did poorly on the same vocabulary assessment.
Manuel Jimenez, a developmental pediatrician and assistant professor of pediatrics and family medicine and community health at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, is the lead author of a study that says young children and infants that are read to by parents have stronger vocabulary skills.
“We found that reading with very young children can be quite powerful and really makes a difference in a child’s development, particularly with children who may be vulnerable to developmental delays,” said Jimenez. “The bottom line is that children respond positively to shared reading at an early age and doing so is one way to improve language skills for all children.”
Excerpts from Forbes, J. (2019, November 26). Young Children and Infants Read to By Parents Have Stronger Vocabulary Skills. Retrieved from
Jimenez, M. E., Reichman, N. E., Mitchell, C., Schneper, L., Mclanahan, S., & Notterman, D. A. (2019). Shared Reading at Age 1 Year and Later Vocabulary: A Gene–Environment Study. The Journal of Pediatrics. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2019.07.008
2020 EE/CD Early Career Award
The Early Education and Child Development Special Interest Group is soliciting nominations for its Early Career Award. Nominations and required materials should be submitted to Mary Jane Moran ( by Wednesday, January 15, 2020.
NIEER Activities
NIEER Joins CityHealth for Upcoming Webinar on Supporting a Highly Qualified City Pre-K Workforce
Join CityHealth and NIEER for a webinar on Tuesday, December 10, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm ET, featuring a panel of Early Childhood Education leaders from cities across the country who will discuss how to support a highly qualified workforce in a city’s Pre-K program.
The webinar will explore effective professional learning systems for establishing a comprehensive, tiered, on-going system of support for teachers. It will address how to use and coordinate a variety of methods, including formal workshops, coaching, and peer learning to effectively support teachers.
ECE Resources
Do Better Schools Help To Prolong Early Childhood Education Effects?
Oklahoma researchers examined if high quality school attendance can prolong early childhood education (ECE) effects on student achievement. Using magnet schools as a proxy for high quality schools, they conclude “higher quality middle schools could help school districts to sustain short-term gains from ECE for a diverse cross-section of students.”
Exploring the Unique Contributions of Teachers’ Syntax to Preschoolers’ and Kindergarteners’ Vocabulary Learning
Researchers examined “the complexity of preschool and kindergarten teachers’ syntax and the relations between teachers’ syntax and children’s vocabulary development.” They suggest that “complex syntax is an important source of linguistic information for word learners, and that teachers’ syntax may be another, often overlooked but potentially malleable dimension of classroom quality.”
Multicomponent Interventions in Early Childhood Education: A Systematic Review
Investigating “whether multicomponent interventions combining key domains … show positive effects and support preschoolers in early learning settings,” researchers found “that studies all showed significant positive effects concerning speech development and literacy skills, behavior and attention.”
Developmental Outcomes of Preschool Special Education
Researchers investigated “developmental outcomes of preschool special education (PSE) services” and found that “… each additional domain of delay on entry was associated with a decrease in the percentage of children exiting within age norms.” The researchers suggest their findings “problematize the application of a single definition of “expected progress” for all participating children and underscore the utility of examining and reporting program outcomes for subgroups of children.”
Hearing Screenings for Preschool Children: A Comparison between Whispered Voice and Pure Tone Audiogram Tests
Researchers compared two hearing screening tests performed on preschool children and suggest children should receive a “more efficient audiometric hearing screening before” attending school.
Preschool Depression: A Diagnostic Reality
Reviewing the last three years of literature, researchers found that “Preschool depression is homotypic with depression that occurs later in life.”
Early Education News Round-up
The week’s key stories on early childhood education. Read now.
Webinar, Language and Literacy Development in Pre-K – 1st Grade, sponsored by the Regional Educational Laboratories, December 9, 2019, and December 12, 2019.
Symposium, Family-Level Perspectives on Sleep and Self-Regulation in Early Childhood, sponsored by Penn State Child Study Center, January 14, 2020, 8:30 AM, Foster Auditorium, Paterno Library, University Park, PA. For more information, contact
Postdoctoral Associate in Early Care and Education Policy Research, Boston University’s School of Social Work   Read more.
Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education, University of Hartford   Read more.
Assistant Professor, Tenure-track, Early Childhood Literacy Education, Kent State University School of Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum Studies   Read more.
Postdoctoral Fellow, Affiliation: SPARK Lab, Graduate School of Education, Stanford University  Read more.