AbstractsEducation Research & Administration

An Investigation of the Predictors of Emergent Literacy Skills in Junior Kindergarten

by Lisa-Christine Girard

Institution: University of Toronto
Year: 2014
Keywords: Emergent literacy; Social Behaviour
Record ID: 2024946
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/65505


Purpose: The primary aim of this thesis was to examine two aspects of early child development, namely emergent literacy skills and social-behavioural development. An examination of these two aspects of development occurs at the within child-level factor and the within-family level factor. Specifically, we seek to examine the effects of the family literacy environment in predicting 4-year-old children’s emergent literacy skills at entry to Junior Kindergarten. Additionally we seek to examine the interrelationships between children’s social behaviours and phonological awareness skills across the academic year. The final aim was to examine the relationship between teacher report and direct observations of children’s social behaviours. Method: One hundred and two children (52 boys, 50 girls) were recruited from 11 schools serving low-income neighbourhoods in a large metropolitan city and were assessed at the beginning and end of the Junior Kindergarten year. Family literacy questionnaires were collected at the beginning of the year. All children completed standardized assessments of their expressive vocabulary, non-verbal IQ, and phonological awareness skills. In addition, teachers completed behavioral ratings for all children. Results: The results of hierarchical multiple regression analyses revealed that direct teaching of letters/sounds in the home contributed 8% of the variance in children’s alphabet knowledge. The results also revealed that being excluded by peers at entry to Junior Kindergarten contributed up to 3% of the variance in negatively predicting phonological awareness outcomes at the end of the year. Further, the results revealed that poorer phonological awareness skills at the beginning of the year contributed up to 5% of the variance in predicting children’s preference for solitary behaviours at the end of the year. Finally, significant relationships were found between teacher report and direct observations for certain classroom behaviours. Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that the family literacy environment can play a positive role in children’s acquisition of emergent literacy skills prior to entry into formal schooling. The results also suggest that exclusion by peers may play a negative role in children’s ease of academic skill attainment. Conversely, the results suggest that the academic skill level that children enter into formal schooling with may play a role in their social behavioural competency in a classroom setting.