The home-school connection in developing early literacy is critical. Most educators recognize that children learn in a socio-constructivist way, through making meaning of their world around them. However there is often a mismatch between literacy practices of homes, communities and cultures and those of school (McNaughton, 2011). It is critical that the home-school connection is nourished and promoted. This will lead to students gaining a greater opportunity to learn and extend their literacy skills. This gap between the literacy practices students engage with at home, compared to those of school can be lessened through:
• Promoting the role families play in developing literacy
• Teachers working in collaboration with families
• Educators relating and developing literacy practices that relate to the child understand and interest.
This essay will explore the main points that are essential to developing early literacy, with particular focus on students from indigenous and non-English speaking backgrounds.
Parents are the child’s first and most influential educators
Families play a critical role in promoting the use and development of literacy. The early years learning framework (EYLF) discusses the importance of the influence of families stating that- Parents are their children’s first and most influential educator (DEEWR, 2009). All parents participate in their child’s literacy learning from birth and ultimately want the child to become as literate as possible (Fellows & Oakley, 2010). Research studies suggest that families play a central role in developing literacy skills. A report by the American National Early literacy panel found that families who regularly; engaged children in elaborated conversations, modeled the uses of literacy, and supported children in activities that promote basic understandings about literacy (e.g., shared book reading) had better-developed language and literacy skills than children from homes in which these activities are less frequent (National Early Literacy Panel (U.S.). & National Center for Family Literacy (U.S.).). As a result of this knowledge it is essential that educators recognize the role and importance parents play in developing literacy. In doing so, educators should promote parental participation in literacy, encouraging a view of literacy that recognizes it as a shared experience. To encourage the development of literacy parents can:
• Engage in oral language with children
• Model the use of literacy
• Engage children in activities that promote basic literacy understanding including:
o Shared book reading
o Play word and language games
o Sing songs with children
Educators should make special effort to encourage families of second language learners. Second language learners are a particular group for attention in Australia and New Zealand, because of the cultural and linguistic diversity of the population. Second language learners are in danger of losing their emergent literacy skills in their...