Relationships among Emphasis on Literacy in the Home, Income, Maternal Depression, and Education on Toddlers participating in Early Intervention Services

Jessica Cox, Utah State University
Amanda Burr, Utah State University
Sandra Gillam, Utah State University
Lisa Boyce, Utah State University


The purpose of the current study was to examine the extent to which select maternal variables were related to and best predicted the home literacy environment of toddlers with language delays. A number of maternal variables were considered including maternal education, maternal vocabulary, household income, and maternal depression. There is a growing body of research that suggests that mothers who are depressed demonstrate lower language abilities, and are less responsive and more directive than mothers who have never experienced depression (Newhoff & West, 1993). Maternal depression has been associated with poorer language outcomes for preschoolers particularly when experienced during the first 3 years of a child's life. Mother's who are depressed may also be less likely to engage in book reading interactions with children. There is also evidence that parents from low income, low education homes use fewer words and less complex vocabulary and syntax during book reading than parents from mid to high income, mid-high education homes (Horton-Ikard & Ellis Weismer, 2007) although results are mixed. A firm understanding of the influences of these factors on child language and literacy development will lead to the development of better interventions and ultimately, better child outcomes. Children in the current study were between 20 and 30 months of age. Information on mother's vocabulary, income, education, levels of depression and reading frequency were obtained. Relationships among variables are discussed.