Date of Award

8-11-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Psychology and Special Education

First Advisor

Daphne Greenberg, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Nicole Patton-Terry, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Gary Bingham, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Laura Fredrick, Ph.D.

Abstract

Studies have examined the impact of parents’ educational level on their child’s emergent literacy skills and have found positive associations (Korat, 2009). However, a review of the literature indicates that previous studies have not investigated whether parents’ oral and written language skills relate to their child’s emergent oral and written language skills. This is important in light of the fact that parents’ educational level does not provide a complete picture of their academic skills (Greenberg, 1995). In addition to parental characteristics, the home literacy environment (HLE) is seen as important in the growth of children’s emergent literacy skills (Hood, Conlon, & Andrews, 2008). The two studies in this investigation explored the relationships among parental oral and written language skills, the HLE, and preschoolers’ emergent literacy skills. Both studies included 96 parent-child dyads. The first study examined the relationship between parents’ oral and written language skills and their preschoolers’ oral and written language skills. All participants were assessed on various oral and written language measures. Descriptive analyses, one-way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), correlations, and regressions were conducted to assess the relationships between the parent skills and child skills. Most of the parental skills were found to have a relationship with the child skills. The second study extended the first study by examining the relationships between parental responses on a Home Literacy Environment Survey (HLES) and Title Recognition Test (TRT) of children’s books, parental characteristics (educational level and oral and written language skills), and children’s emergent literacy skills. Descriptive analyses, one-way ANOVA, correlations, and regressions were employed to gain information about the relationships among the variables. The HLE (measured by responses to the HLES and TRT) had positive relationships with parents’ skills and children’s skills. However, the HLE did not predict the children’s skills beyond the contribution of parental characteristics. Interpreting the results of this study promotes thought about the specific role of the HLE as a potential mediator between parental characteristics and child skills. Altogether, both studies provide preliminary information about parental factors that may influence preschoolers’ emergent literacy skills.

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