Children's Vocabulary Project


​​​Does Your First Grader Struggle with Reading or Language Development?

Vocabulary is a key component of learning to read and developing spoken communication. In the Children’s Vocabulary Project, we visit you and your child each year from first to fourth grade to assess vocabulary development. Sign up for a free language screening to see if your child qualifies. Participants are compensated $20 per hour for their time during the study, and we can bring the study to you.

Who Should Participate?

  • 6- to 7-year-old children:
    • Who are in firs​t grade
    • Who speak English only (not bilingual)
    • Who have trouble learning language
      • For example, your child may have difficulty following directions, expressing thoughts, using complete sentences, using appropriate grammar and learning to read or write.

What Does Participation Involve?

  • An initial visit with a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist, who will assess your child’s language abilities at no cost to you.
  • 3–4 visits per year for 4 years. Annual visits are scheduled at approximately the same time each year.
  • Each visit ​will last about an hour and will involve computer tasks and language testing. Activities are designed to be engaging for kids, and participants will be given breaks as needed.
  • Participants are​ compensated $20​ per hour for their time.
  • Participants are invited to Boys Town Campus or Boys Town Hospital for the study or may choose to have a researcher come to their home or agreed upon location.

Sign Up to​ Participate

Call ​(531) 355–5090 or fill out the form​ below:


Frequently Asked Questions

What Does Participation Require?

Participation includes language testing and computer tasks, all​ designed to be enjoyable for chi​ldren. Testing results are shared with parents. Children will meet with the research team over the course of the 4 year study.

  • One qualification visit to determine if your child's language profile meets study specifications
  • 3 visits per year for 4 years. These visits will be scheduled during roughly the same two-week period every year.
  • Each visit will last 1-2 hours and will involve brief computer tasks and language testing. All tasks are designed to be engaging for children and participants ​will be given adequate breaks.

Where Will Testing Take Place?

We can see you at our offices in the Boys Town Campus or at the Boys Town National Hospital on N. 30th Street in Omaha, NE. If this is not convenient, we can arrange to meet you ar your home of another preferred site (e.g., library parking lot, community center). Visits are flexible and will be scheduled to fit your family's availability.

Will I be Compensated for My Time?

Yes! Your child will be compensated at the rate of $20 per hour for all visits with a probable compensation of $75 per year and a total likely compensation of $300 over the four years.

Can I Keep My Child's Testing Results?

Children's scores on all language testing will be shared with parents. ​A licensed Speech-Language Pathologist will be available to answer questions and provide feedback regarding your child's language abilities. ​


​​The Children's Vocabulary Project (2017-2022, McGregor PI)

Funding provided by the National Institutes of ​Health

The objective of this projec​t is to discover how children's word learning changes over developmental time. The central hypothesis is that the challenge of word learning at different ages varies with the word-learning situation, the component of the word to be learned,​ and the development of underlying cognitive mechanisms. The project will test this hypothesis b​y tracking children in Iowa as they learn and retain new words over the course of one week during each of four years beginning in 1st grade.

About the St​udy

The goals of the study are:

  1. to establish a developmental trajecto​ry of word learning in stronger and weaker learners that determines:
    • how learning and development vary with the learning situation
    • how learning and development vary with the component of the word to be learned.
  2. to specify the cognitive mechanisms underlying this developmental trajectory.