Time and again, research has confirmed that

  • with early intervention, children with disabilities achieve developmental milestones more easily;

  • with the right stimulation in early childhood, families and practitioners can help mitigate the lifelong effects of a child’s disabling condition;

  • among children from poor communities, early intervention can improve school achievement.

Reaching Out to Children’s Homes

Because of the enormous influence of family on a child’s school success, many family literacy interventions have arisen in recent years. These programs range vastly in intensity and type. But what most of them have in common is an effort to reach out to parents and caregivers with home visits from a parent educator, information on child development, and guidance on how to get children ready for kindergarten. In many family literacy programs, screening is available to determine if children have developmental delays.

Some family literacy programs reach out to parents even before their children are born, during the pregnancy. Other programs merely provide books to preschoolers, along with parent guidance on how to read effectively to children. Still other programs try to give parents themselves literacy training, as well as their children. Research on family literacy programs suggests that they have small but positive effects on school readiness, including small positive improvements in the reading materials available in children’s homes, as well as improved parent expectations for their children’s academic success.


It is important to note that, for children at risk of reading difficulties, high-quality experiences during preschool years cannot be seen as a way to prevent all reading difficulties. If a child has an enriched early childhood environment but attends a low-achieving elementary school with ineffective teaching, the child remains at risk. Indeed, the positive experiences of the early years will be muted if not followed by good instruction. Quality preschool followed up with high-quality primary education will reduce the number of cases of reading failure. There is, however, a small percentage of children who will have reading failure and for whom known interventions have not been successful.

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