With a little help: improving kindergarten children’s
vocabulary by enhancing the home literacy
Published online: 3 December 2014
Ó Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014
Abstract Early linguistic competencies are necessary prerequisites for later
reading and writing abilities and thus for a successful school career. Various child
and family characteristics have been identiﬁed as important predictors of children’s
linguistic abilities, such as intelligence or the ‘‘home literacy environment’’ (HLE).
Therefore, one way to improve children’s competencies is by enhancing the HLE
they live in. Family literacy programs have proven to be successful with this task.
However, most interventions used to improve HLE were fairly intensive and costly.
In this study a nonintensive intervention procedure was developed to improve both,
HLE and linguistic competencies. The sample consisted of 125 German children in
their last year of kindergarten (mean child age at the beginning of the study: 5 years,
5 months) and their families who showed an above average socio-economic status.
All parents were offered to participate in the intervention, consisting of providing
them with relevant information on HLE at one evening meeting and providing an
additional individual reading session that introduced them to the concept of dialogic
reading. HLE and children’s linguistic competencies were assessed before and after
the intervention. Participating and non-participating families did not differ in any of
the study variables at the beginning of the study. However, families who partici-
pated in the interventions not only improved their HLE, but children in those
families also showed greater linguistic competency development when compared
F. Niklas (&) Á W. Schneider
Department of Educational Psychology, University of Wu
ntgenring 10, 97070 Wu
e-mail: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne, Level 4, 100 Leicester
Street, Melbourne, VIC 3010, Australia
Read Writ (2015) 28:491–508