Most people recall reading with their family members when they were a young child. While this seems to be an activity done to spend time together, it has a considerable impact on a student’s success. Whether people choose to do it based on the enjoyment they have when they spend time with their child or because tradition is being passed down, both have a positive effect. Parents reading to their children is a highly recommended activity and is related to reading achievement (Anderson, 2000). The key to reading achievement is making it a consistent routine.
In the case of reading achievement and early literacy development, the earlier it is implemented, the better the outcome. It is suggested that long-term, systematic parental involvement in the primary grades can have a significant impact on children’s literacy development (Crosby, Rasinski, Padak, & Yildirim, 2015). Home literacy variables such as age of the child when parents began reading to them, how frequently parents read to their child and the length of the readings predicted language development (Dove, Neuharth-Pritchett, Wright, & Wallinga, 2015).
Delaying how soon parents engage their children in rich literacy activities can cause literacy skills to develop at a slower rate compared to children whose parents were involved earlier on. Parents who make a conscientious effort to read with and to their child early on will see noticeable growth in reading over time, making it a highly successful routine.
When parents plan and initiate literacy activities, there are many different ways of doing so. For example, there are formal and informal ways of working with the child at home which both develop literacy skills. An activity which would be considered informal would be reading to the child at bedtime each night. The child is exposed to the text, but their interaction with print is not quite hands on. On the contrary, formal activities could include writing the letters of the alphabet, asking the child to say the sound each letter makes and working on writing.
Although it is believed that any exposure to text is beneficial for the child’s reading achievement, it is possible that “informal and formal literacy activities may have different relations to the development of children’s literacy” (Sénéchal & LeFevre, 2002). Regardless, reading with the child can develop literacy skills, but formal literacy activities are more likely to develop emergent reading skills (Sénéchal & LeFevre, 2002).
This is somewhat controversial because most of the literature indicates that shared reading develops early literacy skills. Further research would likely need to be conducted in order to provide more information on the effect of formal literacy activities. Children who are read to benefit whether or not an activity is formal or informal via receiving exposure to text, listening comprehension and vocabulary development.
Importance of Home Environment and Routines at Home
One of the most essential aspects of early literacy development is the environment in which the child lives in. The environment that children are in has a strong relationship with children’s literacy skills, concepts of print and vocabulary development. Direct involvement in children’s learning and availability of learning resources at home all appear to influence academic success and cognitive growth (Anderson, 2000). Whether parents have books, newspapers, magazines, or other forms of print can be correlated to children’s interest in reading and development of literacy skills.
The importance of the environment is the availability of books and text. While the role may not be direct, it is critical for the child’s reading development (Sénéchal & LeFevre, 2002). Parents can also model to their children by engaging in text which teaches the child that print carries meaning. Children who see others engaging in text will likely begin to notice the print around them. When children are surrounded by print, they learn to understand the meaning of print and eventually apply those concepts to read.
When parents get involved and ask their child about their day it is regarded as an effective way of being involved and helping their child succeed academically. When parents ask their child about their day, they are involving themselves in their child’s academics. In a study conducted, there was a significant positive effect in regards to literacy outcomes when parents asked about the child’s day (Dove et al., 2015).
Parents who talked with their children about their day every day or a few times a week, had higher comprehension scores than students whose parents only asked about their day a few times a month (Dove et al., 2015). When parents take an interest in what their child is doing at school, it can influence students’ engagement at school. Many of these ideas may seem too simple to be effective but have been proven to have an influence on children’s reading and academics.
How Socioeconomic Status Affects Development
Many people might assume that when parents have a higher socioeconomic status, the child will be more successful. As mentioned earlier, the richness of the home environment plays a role in students’ early literacy development and eventually reading achievement. Based on the parent’s attitudes about reading and reading habits themselves, students are already exposed and develop stances towards reading.
If children do not have access to text and rarely see their family members engaging in text, then their attitude towards reading will be different than children who have grown up around parents who instilled the importance of reading early on in the child’s life. Parents who have a higher socioeconomic status are better known to instill positive attitudes towards reading before primary school begins. Because these parents expose their children to text early on, they transmit the value of reading.
Moreover, children whose parents have instilled an importance for reading early on are more likely to enjoy reading (Hemmerechts, Agirdag, & Kavadias, 2017). Unfortunately, socioeconomic status can play a role in student’s reading achievement. Children of parents with higher socioeconomic statuses are more likely to be successful through primary school (Hemmerechts, Agirdag, & Kavadias, 2017). While parents of higher socioeconomic statuses have more time and resources, there are ways for parents who have a lower socioeconomic status to still have a positive influence on their child’s reading development.
A few studies have found that income is not related to shared reading frequency within homes. It is possible that family differences could be a better predictor of the influential activities affecting children’s emergent literacy than socioeconomic status (Dove et al., 2015). Each family is different and has varying routines, expectations and habits that are formed while the child is growing up. Most families do not have control over their socioeconomic status but when they dedicate time to reading with the child, there will be noticeable growth.
Parents of a lower socioeconomic status have control over the attitudes they instill in their child about reading. In order to help children from various backgrounds, educators and schools should communicate the importance of being involved in the child’s academics, as well as providing strategies for all parents. Many parents do not understand how simple, yet effective, their involvement can be in their child’s cognitive development.
Overall it can be concluded that parental involvement plays a major role in students’ reading development, achievement and motivation to read. Parents have abounding ways to prepare and enforce their child’s learning prior to and during school. Based on the parent’s education and socioeconomic status, they may have more knowledge, tools, education, time and skills to know and help their child prior to starting school.
The research shows that more parental involvement leads to increased success. Although it was implied that informal and formal literacy activities are contrasting and develop different skills, both activities are positive for developing early literacy skills. Across the different articles, the claim that formal activities are better known to develop early literacy skills was narrow and did not align with other research.
If parents have the time to read nightly, ask their child about their day, set examples and create a home environment that is rich in literature, then students have the tools they need to be exposed and develop their early literacy skills. Parental involvement is necessary to help students develop early literacy skills which they will continue to develop and apply in school. All of this information is relevant to my research because I want to gain personal insight on what types of parental involvement are most related to reading achievement and motivation.