This study examined the language at age 5 of socioeconomically disadvantaged children who had been randomly assigned at birth to a language-enriched day care program with a parent education component, a parent education program without a language-enriched day care, or no treatment. The interventions were administered between the ages of 3 months to 5 years. Language measures, reflecting children's ability to manipulate topics, as well as their structural complexity, semantic diversity, and general talkativeness were examined. The results showed that the disadvantaged children who attended the language-enriched day care program with the parent education component used a significantly greater proportion of high quality topic manipulation skills and less low quality topic manipulation skills during conversation than did children in the other two groups. The day care effect on high quality topic manipulation was present even after adjusting for children's intelligence and for the amount of community day care experience of the children in the parent education alone and control groups. No significant treatment differences were found for structural, semantic, and talkativeness measures. Implications of the result for early language intervention are discussed.
Language skills of children with different preschool experiences