Journal Article

Early Parental Knowledge and Parent-Child Conversations Promote Preschool Language Skills: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Academic Pediatrics | June 27, 2024
Christy Y.Y. Leung and Dana L. Suskind


This randomized controlled trial examined the long-term impact of the 3Ts-HV intervention on preschool-aged children’s language skills through promoting parental knowledge and parent-child conversational turns during toddlerhood among families from low-SES backgrounds, controlling for parental education level, parental language skills, and child’s age.


92 parent-toddler dyads of low SES were randomized to receive either the 3Ts-HV intervention (n = 46) or Healthy Lifestyle control (n = 46) curriculum from 14 to 20 months. Parental language skills were assessed at 14 months; parental knowledge was assessed at 14 and 26 months; parent-child conversational turn count was assessed at 14 and 38 months; children’s language skills were assessed at 50 months.


A significant serial mediation effect (β = 0.05, 95% CI [0.002; 0.13]) revealed that the 3Ts-HV intervention increased parental knowledge at 26 months, contributed to more frequent parent-child conversational turns at 38 months, and in turn promoted children’s language skills at 50 months.


The present study provides empirical evidence illustrating the underlying longitudinal processes from increasing parental knowledge and enriching parent-child linguistic interactions during toddlerhood, to promoting children’s language development at preschool age. These findings point to a significant path to supporting families who face socioeconomic challenges early in life to promote equity in children’s early language experiences and narrow disparities in children’s developmental outcomes.