Date of Award

August 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Karen Stoiber

Committee Members

Nancy File, Cindy Walker, Bonnie Klein-Tasman, Kyongboon Kwon


Academic readiness skills for preschool aged children have recently become a focus for researchers and professionals. In particular, researchers have sought to better understand and identify the factors associated with academic performance for children who live in poverty. Researchers have identified broad constructs for the personal variable of social competence along with the contextual variables of the home environment that play a role in the acquisition of emergent literacy skills. To better understand the relationship between these variables and emergent literacy this study included 121 preschool aged children attending a Head Start program in the Midwest. Hierarchical regression analyses were utilized to better understand how these individual and contextual factors, both collectively and independently, affect emergent literacy. Specifically, the effects of social competence and home environment on early literacy skills of vocabulary skills, alphabet knowledge, and sound awareness were analyzed separately. Results indicated positive social competence played a significant role in predicting vocabulary skills and alphabet knowledge. No association was found between the home environment measures and young, at-risk children's early literacy development. The results of the study serve to broaden the research for social competence on emergent literacy skills. Implications for school psychologists and future areas of growth for the field are presented and discussed.