The Impact of Socio-Cultural Background on Children's Literacy Development

Monday, 11 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal III (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Distributed Paper
Magdalena GORCIKOVA, Faculty of Social Sciences at Charles University, Czech Republic
This study assesses the general hypothesis which assumes the impact of socio-cultural
background advantage on the literacy development, i.e. preschool reading activities result in
children’s cognitive abilities and pre-literacy skills in the beginning of primary school. We seek
to answer the questions: To what extent are preschool reading activities (e.g. reading for
pleasure with parents) influenced by parental education? And, how do these pre-school
activities influence cognitive abilities and pre-literacy skills among pupils in the beginning and
at the end of the first grade? Literacy development is studied among first-grade students using
ongoing longitudinal survey measuring pre-reading activities and repeated measurements of
cognitive abilities and (pre)reading skills at the beginning and at the end of the first school year.
The sample consists of 439 children between ages 6 to 7 in randomly selected 25 primary
schools in the Central Bohemia region and Prague capital city. The indicators of preschool
reading activities (regular child/parent reading, talk about a story they're reading, library
visiting) as well as results from psychological tests measuring cognitive abilities and early
reading skills (decoding, listening comprehension, vocabulary) is first examined for
homogeneity and internal consistency. Second, the hypotheses of (1) preschool reading
activities as well as cognitive abilities and pre-reading skills differentiation by parental
educational backgrounds is assessed via generalized linear models (also controlling for gender
and size of community), and (2) the longitudinal effects of preschool reading activities (from
the beginning to the end of the first grade) on cognitive abilities and pre-literacy skills are assess
by a model with repeated measures design. Preliminary results reveal that higher family’s
educational background have impact on reading activities with a child at the preschool age as
well as on children’s cognitive abilities and early reading skills. Yet, the initial literacy skills at
the end of the first school year are strongly influenced by early reading activities in pre-school
age which are flourished particularly in high educated families.