Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Communication Disorders (MS)

Degree Level



Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders


Lisa Bowers

Committee Member

Fran Hagstrom

Second Committee Member

Margie Gilbertson

Third Committee Member

Samantha Robinson


Early childhood poverty, Language development, pre-kinergarten, Reading development, Reading logs, summer learning set back


Socioeconomic status and poverty can greatly affect child development and have lasting impacts throughout life. Children who are raised in a low socioeconomic status homes may experience limited parent sensitivity, limited parental engagement, and limited access to stimulating materials. These factors may also limit opportunities to experience rich language and literacy experiences which can negatively impact development of emergent literacy skills and later educational growth. To reduce the effects of poverty on school readiness, income-based childcare programs allow families access to affordable early school readiness opportunities that are developmentally appropriate. Head Start programs are designed to facilitate child development, provide parent education to improve the home environment, and provide families connections to community resources. Head Start centers run on a typical school year calendar and do not provide formal education in the summer. This study examined changes in vocabulary as measured by the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test- Fourth Edition (PPVT-4) standard scores of children who attended Head Start. Participants included 135 children enrolled in Head Start pre-k programs during the 2018-2019 school year between the ages of three and six years old. Students were further divided into two groups based on completion of mandatory reading logs to assess differences in vocabulary by group. To study the impact of the summer reading setback and the home environments over the summer, researchers developed the Perception of Summer Literacy survey which was completed by participants who returned for the 2019-2020 school year. Results of the survey were completed by 25 families and indicated that parents, on average, read to their children for the same amount time during the summer as they did in the school year. PPVT-4 results indicated there were no significant changes based on the reading logs; however, mean vocabulary scores significantly increased for students who attended Head Start for the academic year.