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Research Update

July 5, 2011


What we know (and don't) about effective programs and strategies

for improving early language and literacy


Children's experiences both inside the home and in early care and education settings play a significant role in the development of their emerging language and literacy skills. Results from experimental evaluations of different approaches to improve early language and literacy have suggested that children's skills can be influenced by effective early childhood interventions. Child Trends recently reviewed findings from fifteen random assignment experimental evaluations of literacy and language programs. This fact sheet, WHAT WORKS FOR EARLY LANGUAGE AND LITERACY: Lessons from Experimental Evaluations of Programs and Intervention Strategies, summarizes what is known about the impact these programs and intervention strategies have on young children's development in language and literacy. Some programs were shown to significantly improve certain aspects of early learning (such as children's vocabulary skills), though others did not.


This overview is based on experimentally evaluated programs and intervention strategies that are drawn from Child Trends' database of random assignment, intent-to-treat studies of social interventions for children and youth - LINKS (Lifecourse Interventions to Nurture Kids Successfully).[1] 


Related Child Trends briefs


If programs evaluated with a random assignment, intent-to-treat evaluation have been overlooked, please submit the evaluation at



Please read our most recent post,  The problem with children watching television,  

and subscribe to Trend Lines, Child Trends' blog 




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