Port Discovery Children’s Museum

Issue and Partnership Goal: 

It is hard to imagine a more vital skill to lifelong success than reading.  It is the cornerstone of most human endeavors, be they personal, professional or scholastic.  The science of literacy development has shown that the road to reading begins with language learning; the foundation for emergent literacy skills lies in learning the sounds of letters, meanings of words and structures of sentences.  SLI is partnering with Port Discovery Children’s Museum in Baltimore to bring the science of early language and literacy development to the museum through a suite of interactive tools to empower parents and caregivers of children 5 and younger to maximize this critical window of language development.

Current Projects to Address This Issue:

Understanding Language and Literacy Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviors

Project Goal: 

The development of language and literacy is inextricably linked, and early interactions in the home can influence learning.  As such, rich early language and literacy experiences are critical, yet there is significant variation in children's early experience.  Thus, understanding factors that influence caregiver language and literacy behaviors will further our understanding of how caregiver knowledge and attitudes relate to behavior, and guide the development of interventions that support rich interactions in the home.  However, little research has examined this.  In collaboration with Port Discovery, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, and B’More for Healthy Babies in Baltimore, this project aims to (1) develop a survey that could assess knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of caregivers across a wide demographic and socio-economic range (high and low), and (2) examine relations between language and literacy knowledge, attitudes, and self-reported caregiver and child behaviors toward supporting these skills.       

SLI’s Role: 

SLI assembled an interdisciplinary team of experts in language, literacy, child development, and measurement development to (1) develop a survey to measure knowledge, attitudes, and self-reported behaviors, and (2) examine the relations among knowledge, attitudes, and self-reported behavior.


Gagnier, K.M., Holochwost, S. J., Lewis, S., & Fisher, K. R. (2017).  Developing a measure of caregiver knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors around language and literacy development for use with diverse populations.  Paper presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Austin TX.