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Parental guided support of a child's emerging literacy development

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Buxengard, Beth
Ward, Gay
MSE, Reading
Dec 07, 2012
Reading (Early childhood); Language arts (Early childhood); Literacy; Parent and child; Early childhood education
Research has shown that parental involvement in children's early literacy is critical to their development. The problem is that parents may lack the knowledge, skill set, and confidence to obtain this involvement. The purpose of this action research project is to provide parents with interactive tools, focusing on print characteristics, that equips them to play a more prominent role in their child's literacy education. This action research presents the findings in a two part study. In part one, parents were asked to focus on the characteristics of print while reading aloud daily to their children. While in part two, the focus expands to include print found in their environment. This project design was inspired by research indicating that explicit instruction on the concepts about print builds a connection between oral language and reading. This instruction thus creates a link that can build a solid foundation for reading readiness. In part one of the study, the researcher used Marie Clay's Concepts About Print observation checklist to obtain a base print score for each of the eight participants (Clay, 2000). She created 12 different book bags, each book bag contained one print salient book and a brochure for parents. Print salient books are defined as books featuring diagrams, labels, speech bubbles, and unique fonts. The parent brochure provided examples on how they can draw their child's attention to print when reading aloud daily. Each preschooler chose their own book bag, based on their interests. They were encouraged to exchange book bags daily, but this was not enforced. After three weeks, the researcher again used the Concepts About Print observation checklist to reveal what effect the reading program had on the emergent preschool readers (Clay, 2000). The results showed that each of the participant's knowledge about print increased, on average 6 points. Proving that, given the proper direction and tools, parents can have a positive impact on their children's literacy development. The second part of the study expanded beyond conventional print found in books, to include environmental print. Environmental print is text that surrounds our daily lives, on billboards, signs and logos. The researcher opted to use a single child case study model to assess the effects of parental and preschooler engagement in environmental print. The researcher, again, used Marie Clay's Concepts About Print observation checklist to obtain a base print score (Clay, 2000). The researcher also assessed the preschooler's knowledge base of environmental print by choosing twenty examples of print found in our environment. Three print cards were developed for each example. One used multiple visuals as cues for the preschooler, the second used minimal visuals and the third used no visuals, just the word (reference figure 6 for example). Over the course of six weeks, the researcher engaged the preschooler in guided discussions and activities that focused on these specific environmental print examples. She also followed the parental brochure guide, used in part one of the study, to draw the child's attention to print during daily read alouds. At the end of the study, the researcher reassessed the preschooler's print knowledge by administering both Marie Clay's Concepts About Print checklist (Clay, 2000) and the 20 examples of environmental print cards. When comparing the base print score to the post print score the results clearly showed a significant growth in print knowledge. The participant's Concepts About Print knowledge grew 33%; while his environmental print knowledge grew an average of 11.1 points. These results clearly show that explicit print instruction using both conventional books and environmental print will increase print knowledge. Print knowledge is important for building a solid foundation for reading and is a skill that needs to be established before entering Kindergarten. Including parents in creating this foundation is integral to success because they have the opportunity to impact their children's knowledge of print on a daily basis.
Plan B Paper. 2012. Master of Science in Education- Reading--University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Teacher Education Department. 32 leaves. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 30-32).
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