Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Burch, Kerry

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Curriculum and Instruction


Reading; Educational sociology


The home environment, which includes the level of organization and stability in the home, plays a crucial role in the development of executive function and oral language skills. For children who live in a low-SES environment, executive function and oral language acquisition are inferior compared to that of students living at other economic levels. Executive function, which assists with attentional and inhibitory control, is underdeveloped in children who live in poverty. Stressors in the home environment influence joint attention during infancy, and receptive and expressive language skills are further thwarted during early childhood. Working memory, another component of executive function, assists a child with narration. For children who live in poverty, an underdeveloped working memory influences their success with retelling a story and hinders comprehension. Conversations in the home are more directive and are fewer than those that occur between a parent and child in a middle or upper middle-class family. Conversations and book reading provide a child with opportunities to practice language and expand vocabulary. In a low-SES environment, where parents work hard to get through daily tasks, book reading and playtime are not a priority. This study explored how executive function and oral language influence the development of vocabulary and early reading skills for preschoolers who live in poverty. The case study of three families included observations, interviews, and document collection. The findings support previous research that suggests that poverty influences a preschooler's vocabulary development and early reading skills.


Advisors: Kerry Burch.||Committee members: Maylan Dunn-Kinney; Amy Stich.||Includes bibliographical references.


171 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type