Literacy acquisition and learning among young children is an important part of child development milestones. However, the rates at which children acquire literacy vary significantly depending on whether such learning is offered at home or at school for the first time.
Although environmental factors can influence learning, parents and close family members play the greatest role in a child’s literacy acquisition.
Various researches have established that parent-child interactions encourage children to master language cues early in life, thus contributing significantly to subsequent learning ability during formal education.
This paper will discuss how the interaction between children and parents influences literacy acquisition during pre-school years and later in life. Moreover, the paper will highlight some alternative factors that contribute to literacy acquisition, including environment and community in which a child grows.
Finally, the paper will highlight some contrary arguments that tend to downplay the role of parents in children’s learning at home and at school.
How do parent-child interactions support children’s acquisition before formal school?
Literacy acquisition starts early in life and it is highly influenced by the interaction between children and immediate family, especially parents. The extent of exposure to language and literacy is usually a significant contributor to achievements at school.
When an ideal learning environment is created, it is likely to enhance learning and reading ability. Factors that may predict success in reading and accomplishment in school include verbal language, coding of alphabets and mastery of print.
This success also requires setting clear standards to monitor the outcome, as well as developing relevant curriculum and teaching preparedness to factor the needs of early learners (Strickland & Riley-Ayers, 2006).
Effective provision of pre-school education study shows the importance of caregivers’ role in learning needs of children, which are influenced by their socio-economic status; this has an effect on development of language and literacy, as it expands children’s minds (Stone, Silliman, Ehren, Apel, 2006).
When parents take an active role in determining a child’s literacy acquisition, there is likelihood of a greater success, since most of learning takes place before the formal schooling begins (Verhoeven & Snow, 2001).
Zygouris-Coe (2001) points to the need of literacy intervention in the early years of life. This is further supported by findings of other literature on behavior, which point to the diversity and the role of parents in language acquisition.
Evidence shows that the mother-child bond created every year would enhance communication skills. This is likely to be shaped by the home environment that babies and toddlers are exposed to during their first two years, thus influencing their performance when they start formal schooling.
This environment is influenced by social factors within the family. Nevertheless, families that are not financially endowed are likely to have minimum opportunities for language advancement.
Therefore, the report recommends the need for recognizing the influence of home and communication environment in shaping acquisition of language and literacy (Hamer, 2012).
The first and the second language mastery requires an interactive environment that supports language development. This will depend on the frequency of parents’ communication with children, which plays a vital role in expansion of language acquisition.
Therefore, children should be given a chance to communicate their needs and interact freely at all times. Nevertheless, pre-school learning should help in shaping the experience of knowledge in real life situations.
Gains in early literacy are closely linked to children learning from their association with family members. The relationship formed becomes the basis for deciphering meaning from activities learnt during pre-school years.
Children would always want to interact with the rest of the family by communicating their interests (Lynch, 2007). Moreover, evidence shows that good reading skills are developed by constructing facts that are related to learners’ experience at home.
When difficulties are encountered in the course of learning, they are likely to contribute to reading deficiency. Indeed, learning at school tends to follow from child’s early experiences before entering the formal schooling.
Children who had memorable learning experiences from early years are known to have a good grasp of vocabularies, thus demonstrating that early reading experiences shape the success of children in reading.
Nevertheless, there are arguments that when efforts are not made to engage children early in life, they might be at risk of reading problems (Lylon, 2000).
According to Verhoeven & Snow (2001), students’ abilities to read depend on the extent of parents’ involvement during pre-school ages. When this collaboration is delayed, children are unlikely to gain benefits anymore.
The authors recommend parents to exercise attention in children during initial years of language acquisition with the view of promoting competency in reading. Moreover, there is need to recognize the role that outside learning plays in aiding reading development.
Efforts should be made to reinforce verbal cues and recognize finer details that help communication to influence the outcome of learning (Manzo, Manzo, & Albee, 2003). In addition, children should be helped to make connection between what they learn in class and other textual information learnt in early years.
Children need a conducive learning environment that suits different kinds of their needs. Measures that promote learning at home may be important in determining risks that learners may face.
For instance, a shallow background may play a role in hindering learning so that children who are not exposed to print work may face difficulty in reading printed materials.
The environment in which learning takes place influences literacy acquisition, especially when learning aids are available and accessible. All in all, families and environment play a crucial role in helping children to acquire skills that help them in early education (Douglas, 2010).
Communities also tend to promote learning by adopting certain measures such as promoting collaboration between schools, society, and families through volunteering and mentorship (Spedding, Harkins, Makin, & Whiteman, 2007).
They also encourage language support development for underprivileged families to aid in literacy development.
Other measures include policy issues to promote development of early childhood education targeting population of children who are disadvantaged to acquire reading skills by fostering an enabling learning environment.
Research in learning needs of pre-scholars is important in order to establish different knowledge and skills requirements; this would subsequently promote conceptual learning that enhances mastery of vocabulary and comprehension.
In conclusion, parents and families play a great role in promoting language acquisition among children before they join formal education. The relationship between parents and children creates an enabling environment for children to master vocabulary of their native and the second language.
However, the environment which the child is exposed to plays a role in literacy acquisition. Therefore, it is important to ensure the right learning aids are present, in addition to enhancing community interaction to facilitate learning process.
Douglas, E. (2010). Innovations in Child and Family Policy: Multidisciplinary Research and Perspectives on Strengthening Children and Their Families. Plymouth, England: Lexington Books.
Hamer, C. (2012). NCT Research overview: Parent-child communication is important from birth. Retrieved from http://www.nct.org.uk/system/files/related_documents/Hamer%20NCT%20research%20overview%20Parent_child%20communication%20p15-20%20Mar12.pdf
Lylon, G. (2000). Why some children have difficulties learning to Read. Retrieved from http://www.readingrockets.org/article/296
Lynch, J. (2007). Learning about Literacy: Social factors and reading Acquisition. Retrieved from http://www2.sfasu.edu/cte/Michelle_Files/HMS_353_Web_Content/Learning_About_Literacy_Social_Factors_and_Reading_Acquisition.pdf
Manzo, A., Manzo, U., & Albee, J. (2003). Reading Assessment for Diagnostic-Prescriptive Teaching. NY, USA: WADSWORTH Incorporated FULFILLMENT.
Spedding, S., Harkins, J., Makin, L., & Whiteman, P. (2007). Investigating early Literacy learning in family and Community centre. Adelaide, SA: Office of Early Childhood and Statewide Services.
Stone, C., Silliman, E., Ehren, B., & Apel, K. (2006). Handbook of Language and Literacy: Development and Disorders. NY, USA: Guilford Press.
Strickland, D., & Riley-Ayers, S. (2006). Early Literacy: Policy and Practice in the preschool Years. Retrieved from http://nieer.org/resources/policybriefs/10.pdf
Verhoeven, L., & Snow, C. (2001). Literacy and Motivation: Reading Engagement in Individuals and Groups. London, England: Routledge.
Zygouris-Coe, V. (2001). Emergent Literacy. Florida Literacy and Reading Excellence (flare) Centre. Retrieved from https://education.ucf.edu/mirc/Research/Emergent%20Literacy.pdf