As the Twig Is Bent--Lasting Effects of Preschool Programs

By Consortium for Longitudinal Studies. | Go to book overview

8
The Mother-Child Home Program of the Verbal Interaction Project

Phyllis Levenstein John O'Hara John Madden* The Verbal Interaction Project, Inc. Adelphi University


Introduction

The Verbal Interaction Project (VIP) turned to the family as the primary resource and home base for its preschool Mother-Child Home Program. The senior author's major interest in starting the program in 1965 was to develop a method to prevent the all-too-frequently observed school disadvantage of low-income children by tapping the rich educational potential of the mother-toddler relationship. Public education was, and is, an opportunity structure that is open to all, rich or poor. The aim of the program was to guide parents to help children escape the adult consequences of poverty by preparing them to utilize fully this valuable resource. The purpose of the research to be described was to test the program's effectiveness in preventing school disadvantage.

The Verbal Interaction Project developed the Mother-Child Home Program as a minimal intervention method to aid low-income parents to enhance the early cognitive and emotional socialization of children in their own families. In brief, the program consisted of specially trained "Toy Demonstrators" conducting weekly or semiweekly home play sessions with mother and toddler together around gifts of toys and books called Verbal Interaction Stimulus Materials (VISM). The method avoided didactic, intrusive instruction. Instead it relied upon, and aimed to strengthen, family relationships while fostering the children's intellectual ability to deal with later academic tasks. In essence, it sought to enhance the capacity of poor families to fulfill a basic function of family life.

The program's first full year of operation and research was in 1967-1968 after a year of pilot research. The program was developed into what is essentially

____________________
*
Now at the Pennsylvania State University, York Campus

-237-

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