Date of Award:

2001

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Advisor/Chair:

Lori A. Roggman

Abstract

Social interactions between 153 mother-infant dyads in the laboratory were examined for associations with language and play preferences when infants were 14 months old. Later associations with reading skills, attention, and book reading were examined at the end of second grade. Mothers and infants were videotaped in a 20-minute laboratory observation at 14 months, and joint visual attention and social toy play were coded from the interactions. Language was assessed at 14 months using a standardized instrument, and mothers rated their own and their infants' preferences for specific types of play. A follow-up study, conducted at the end of second grade, assessed decoding and reading comprehension skills, attention and distractibility in the classroom and at home, and the frequency of mother-child book reading. A path model was constructed to examine predictive relations from infancy to second grade. The results suggest that early social interactions are both directly and indirectly related to language in infancy. Joint attention was associated with maternal responses during play and infant preferences for point and name games, which were in turn related to language development. Social interactions in infancy were negatively related to cognitive problems in second. There were small bivariate associations between infant language and play interactions with later reading skills. However, the strongest predictors of reading skills in second grade were children's abilities to sustain attention in relation to cognitive tasks in the classroom. The results suggest that early social interactions involving language and play may foster both language abilities and attention-sustaining abilities, which then influence the development of literacy skills.