This study examined if professional development with teachers would increase children’s literacy skills in low socioeconomic early childhood settings in New Zealand and would lead to changes in teachers’ beliefs and practices and children’s abilities over an 8 week intervention period. Research indicates that children who have alphabetic and phonological awareness on school entry are well positioned to transition from emergent to conventional literacy (Whitehurst & Lonigan, 1998). Although most children develop requisite knowledge and skills as part of early education in New Zealand, about 25 % of children do not (Nicholson, 2005) and struggle with beginning reading. One of the challenges is how teachers can foster emergent literacy within a holistic curriculum such as Te Whāriki (Ministry of Education, 1996), the New Zealand early childhood curriculum. A quasi experimental design was used in which teachers’ and children’s knowledge was pre and post tested in five early childhood centers. Teachers’ (n = 32) beliefs and phonemic awareness were tested using a questionnaire. A range of literacy measures which tested alphabet knowledge, phonemic awareness, ability to recognise and write their own name and the British Picture Vocabulary Test were used with children aged 3–5 years (n = 103). Professional development was offered to teachers at the beginning of the study in four centers; the fifth center was a control. In addition, teachers’ logbooks of how they promoted literacy were collected. Some changes in children’s skills were found, along with some differences in teachers’ beliefs and practices. The results suggest professional development with teachers to support children’s literacy needs to involve more intensive coaching and guiding.
Reading and Writing – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 9, 2013
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