Friday, December 16, 2011

Effects of Home Literacy, Parents' Beliefs, and Children's Task-Focused Behavior on Emergent Literacy and Word Reading Skills.

Stephenson, K. A., Parrila, R. K., and Georgiou, G. K.(2008). Effects of home literacy, parents' beliefs, and children's task-focused behavior on emergent literacy and word reading skills. Scientific Studies of Reading, 12(1), 24-50.

Correlational Study

Given that few studies examine the efficacy of home literacy experiences such as storybook reading or parent attitude toward their children's reading ability, the authors decided to investigate these factors in order to shed some light on home experiences that may or may not have an effect on emergent literacy skills.  

Purpose of study: examine effects of home literacy including shared book reading, teaching activities, and number of books; children's on-task behavior, and parents' beliefs about reading ability.

Past studies indicate that storybook exposure is likely related to language, emergent literacy and later reading achievement. It may be associated, for instance, with better vocabulary and listening comprehension skills, but not phonological sensitivity, letter-name knowledge, or letter-sound knowledge. Neither has it been associated with better reading skills in Gr. 1 and 3. Informal teaching activities were, however, significantly associated with better written language skills and knowledge of letter names and sounds, but not phonological sensitivity. Those children who could recognize letters and read word before kindergarten were better readers in grade one than those who only were read books in the home (Kirby and Hogan, 2007).

61 children (Canadian) 9 teachers, random selection. Whether child attended preschool (50% did) did not correlate with any dependent measures. 53 students final sample number due to attrition or grade retention.

Children tested at beginning of K for letter name knowledge, and phonological sensitivity (CTOPP blending words task). Children's parents responded to a questionnaire on literacy environment and parent beliefs/expectations. End of K, children tested for elision task, letter sound knowledge, word ID, PPVT-III and Raven's Matrices, also rated for task focus in classroom (max score=25). Delayed posttesting given in April/May of gr. 1 for Word ID and Test of Word Reading Efficiency (Torgesen, Wagner, and Rashotte, 1999).

Home literacy assessed with 6 Likert-scale questions
How often cild taught to identify letters?
How often child taught letter sounds?
How often child taught to read words between ages of 2-4?
How often child is read to in the home?
How many children's books in the home?
How many books in the home?

Attitude questions:
How well do you believe your child reads?
Your child finds reading very easy . . . very hard
To do well in reading, you child has to try . . . not at all hard . . . very hard
How well do you think our child will do in rading later on in school?
How well do yo believe your child does at school?
Your child finds school very easy . . . very hard
To do well in school your child has to try  . . not at all hard . . . very hard
How well do you tink your child will do at school in the future?

Teacher questionnaire rating on-task focus
Does student find something else to do instead of focusing on task in hand?
Does student actively attempt to solve difficult situations and tasks?
Does student give up easily?
Does student demonstrate initiative and persistence in activities and tasks?
If activity is not going well, does student lose focus?


In Kindergarten, word ID standard scores were average. Gr 1 standard showed well developed word ID skills, however, he measurement instrument was not standardized. Elision and blending were combined to make a new variable - phonological sensitivity. Letter name and sound were combined to letter knowledge variable. (both sets highly correlated). Grade 1 reading and TOWRE were combined to make a single variable, also.

Although environmental factors and on-task behavior correlated with dependent measures, neither predicted variance when emergent literacy skills were controlled. Parent reports of children being taught letter names and sounds correlated with all the dependent variables. Parent reports of children being taught letter names and sounds did not predict phonological sensitivity. Direct teaching did not predict word reading. Parent beliefs about children's reading and task-focused behaviors were highly correlated with reading measures. Analyses indicate that parent teaching in the home before kindergarten is a factor for the development of phonological sensitivity, letter knowledge and word reading. Story reading frequency and number of books did not show effects. Results were consistent with Senechal and LeFevre's findings (2002). Something that needs further examination is whether direct teaching activities take place outside of shared book reading or during other activities such as writing. Parents more likely to coach letter knowledge and word identification during kindergarten and first gr rather than during preschool years.  Children's task focused behavior predicted variance in letter knowledge and word reading in K when nonverbal IQ and vocabulary knowledge were controlled. Parents beliefs about children's current reading ability predicted variance in phonological sensitivity and word ID in K when nonv IQ and vocabulary were controlled.

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