Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Wilkins, Elizabeth A.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Teaching and Learning


Language arts (Preschool)--Middle West; Day care centers--Middle West


Many children from poverty enter kindergarten lacking the skills needed for learning to read. These children often have had less exposure to rich oral language, books, and background experiences, factors that contribute to emergent literacy. Knowing that children live in homes that support literacy to differing degrees, providing these factors in other environments they attend is underscored. Child-care centers are settings that have the potential to develop emergent literacy. Previous research has focused on the literacy environments of 3- to 5-year-olds. But the foundation of literacy is oral language development, occurring during the critical years of brain development in the first three years of life. This study compared the emergent literacy environments in classrooms for 2-year-olds in three subsidized and three non-subsidized child-care centers in an economically and culturally mixed, midsized city in the Midwest. Systems theory guided the formation of a functional model of intersecting spheres of influence on emergent literacy: the learning environment, interactions between caregivers and children, and oral language stimulation. The NAEYC standards for toddlers and 2-year-olds were the guide for selecting the instruments used in this study. A combination of quantitative and qualitative methods was used to examine the process qualities that impact emergent literacy development. The results of this study showed that the child-care centers with more than 50% of children attending with subsidies had lower quality ratings in classroom environment, interactions with caregivers, and oral language stimulation than the centers with less than 50% of children with subsidies. Implications include the training of caregivers in improving the quality of their interactions with children and in increasing their use of language stimulation techniques that enhance emergent literacy development. The development of partnerships between child-care centers and school districts or other state agencies has the potential to enhance the quality of out-of-home learning environments for children who might not live in homes that provide the language and experiences needed for literacy. Communities need to find creative funding strategies from a multitude of sources in order to assure that children from all income levels have access to high-quality child care that enhances literacy development.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 180-193)


x, 202 pages




Northern Illinois University

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