Doctor of Education
Faculty of Education
Turner, Margaret, An exploration of kindergarten children's multiliterate practices in their homes, EdD thesis, Faculty of Education, University of Wollongong, 2009. http://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/803
Children who enter kindergarten bring to the school environment, a wide range of abilities in literacy. Prior literacy experiences in the home and the wider community have been shown to contribute towards these wide ranging abilities and, consequently, future success in literacy at school.
Our society today, though, is changing rapidly. Our task, therefore, as educators is to prepare our children to function in a future civilization created by the biggest leap in technology since the Industrial Revolution two centuries ago. We have entered a time when advances in technology are having an important effect on literacy development. The literacy needs and demands of a changing society must be addressed in school when children are very young.
This inquiry was an exploration at three Sydney metropolitan schools of kindergarten children’s multiliterate practices in their homes. The inquiry endeavoured to establish the relationship between these practices and the socioeconomic backgrounds and gender of these children. It also endeavoured to establish the relationship between the kindergarten children’s practices and skills with the expectations of policy and curriculum documents in the first year at school of the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Education and Training (DET).
The following research questions guided this inquiry:
* What are the multiliterate practices in the homes of kindergarten children at three Sydney metropolitan schools? * What is the relationship between these multiliterate practices and socioeconomic background? * What is the relationship between these multiliterate practices and gender?
* How do the multiliterate practices and skills of these kindergarten children relate to the expectations, in the first year at school, of current policy and curriculum of the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Education and Training (DET)?
The inquiry was qualitative in nature and employed mixed methodologies of ethnographic techniques, case study and narrative inquiry.
There were three phases in this inquiry; the initial phase that involved surveying 123 kindergarten parents in three schools; the immersion phase that involved observing five case study children in their homes as they engaged in a range of literacy practices including print and paper-based literacies and techno-literacies, and the analysis of the NSW DET documents relevant to literacy learning in the first year at school.
It was found that while socioeconomic background and gender differences existed, all kindergarten children experienced a wide range of multiliterate practices in their homes that comprised print and paper-based literacies and techno-literacies. It was also found that parents held different views about the role that techno-literacies played in learning to read and write and these views seemed to mirror those of early years teachers, namely that print and paper-based skills were more highly valued for young emergent readers and writers.
It was also found that assessment of kindergarten children on entry to school did not recognise young children’s techno-literacy skills in their out-of-school worlds and while curriculum documents included an extensive range of techno-literacy experiences and expectations of learning by the end of the first year at school, schools needed to do more in providing teaching and learning programs that valued young children’s multiliterate experiences.
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