How do preschool children develop literacy skills? : an exploration of parents' views on how they promote early learning
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractPreschool literacy and social skills are crucial in promoting educational and social trajectories especially for children from disadvantaged backgrounds (Olsen and Deboise, 2007). Early childhood interventions in the United Kingdom aim to equip preschool children with skills to prepare them for school and to form a base for future development (potter, 2007). Human beings are known to develop rapidly in the first five years of life, indeed parents are acknowledged as children's first educators, and they can capitalise on this crucial period by providing stimulating and educationally rich environments (Shonkoff and Meisels, 2003). This study sought to assess preschool children's literacy skills and explore the views of their parents on their role in promoting early literacy, their involvement in preschool activities and their expectations from nursery schools. The study also tried to establish a link between the parents' practices and their children's performance in nursery school. Grounded theory approach was used because of the need to explore parents' perceptions, views and attitude with regards to promoting preschool literacy skills. Twelve preschool children were observed at play in nursery school using the Schedule for Growing Skills 11 (1996) mainly focusing on verbal comprehension, manipulative skills and social and emotional development. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with twelve parents of preschool children to gain insight into their views on promoting preschool literacy in the home. Findings revealed that although some parents with low level education and those with low income valued preschool literacy, they did not engage in structured play and interaction with their children to promote literacy skills, citing time constraints and low self efficacy. The children who did not speak English as a first language at home showed significant communication difficulties, suggesting that language was a barrier to the development of school readiness. Findings also indicated that the children whose parents engaged in home learning activities demonstrated preschool competences that prepared them very well for formal education. Some parents who took measures to promote early literacy felt their children did not have much instruction from nursery school on reading, writing and counting, but gained good social skills. The study recommended conceptualising new ways for early years practitioners such as health visitors, nursery nurses and school based family support workers, to help parents engage more aggressively and effectively on strategies that promote early literacy skills. Health visitors and General Practitioners can work together to identify developmental delays and speech and language difficulties to ensure early interventions by specialist services like Speech and Language Therapy. In nursery schools, more resources and capacity are required to ensure that children who need extra support are offered one to one interventions to ensure that they catch up with their peers. Another recommendation drawn from the findings is for early years professionals to encourage and support non-English speaking parents to attend English classes so that they can help their children communicate better in English. Adult literacy programmes can also help parents with low education levels and low self-efficacy to gain confidence in helping their children to learn. The implications of the findings also indicate a need for closer working relationships between agencies such as social care, health and education to provide seamless support to children and families, especially with difficult social circumstances (Department for Health, 2008). It is also hoped that the findings will have implications on designing of targeted interventions for structured parent child interactions especially for parents who lack self efficacy in guiding education related behaviours at home.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
DescriptionSubmitted in part fuJiJ.lment for the award of MSc Public Health
The following license files are associated with this item: