Parent Literacy and Overall Child`s Success
PARENT LITERACY AND OVERALL CHILD’S SUCCESS
ParentLiteracy and Overall Child’s Success
This thesis isdedicated to my relatives especially my beloved parents and siblingswho offered psychological and moral support while conducting thestudy.
Ihighly acknowledge God’s mercies and strength, which was abundantthroughout this process. I am grateful to my supervisor who offeredacademic guidance during the writing of my thesis. I wish to alsothank various groups for willingly giving their answers to questionsin the questionnaire because, without their participation, this studywould have not been success. God bless you all.
This study seeks toexamine the relationship that may exist between a parent`seducational level and a child’s ability to succeed academically.“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” (sic) is a Germanidiom that is often used to explain the likelihood of children takingafter their parent’s behavior. Vygotsky’s (1979) socioculturaltheory further validates this proverb through psychological researchdetailing the progressive development of childhood being a directresult of the environment and experiences they face while growing up(Vygotsky, 1979). The resulting assumptions create negativestereotypes about children, whose parents may not have beensuccessful academically, yet instill the importance of education totheir children. Given that cognitive and behavioral psychology isstill evolving as a subject, there are many disagreements about thevalidity of the sociocultural theory. This quantitative study findsout the opinions of Governor State University students who haveearned at least a high school diploma and have children enrolled inkindergarten through twelfth grade. The research study attempted tocapture participants’ perceptions on the relationship betweenparental literacy and their children’s academic achievements.
Table of Contents
Signature Approval Form 9
CHAPTER ONE 10
Purpose of the Study 12
Research Questions 12
The research answered the following questions 12
Central Question 12
Sub Questions 12
Theoretical Framework 12
CHAPTER THREE 22
Data Collection and Data Analysis 23
Recommendations for Further Research 28
Listof Tables and Figures
Table 1: TargetPopulation………………………………………………………………23
Table 2: Effect of Parent’s levelof education on child’s success……………………….23
Table 3: Effect of parent’s levelof income on child’s academic achievement………….24
Parent Literacy and Overall Child’s Success
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Signature Approval Form CHAPTER ONE Introduction
It is a societal norm that the more educated the parent is (oneparent or both parents), the more likely their child will havegreater academic success compared to children raised by parents thatdo not have at least a high school diploma. This concept is referredto as family literacy and is becoming commonplace in currentpublications. Although the concept of family literacy is widelyapplied, its interpretation differs depending on how an individualbelieves family literacy should be evaluated. Thomas and Skage (1998)attempted to define family literacy as a task that “may be comparedto trying to capture a broad landscape in a single camera shot"(p. 5). However, the concept of family literacy is not just a randomidea without any basis. A study by Turner (1996) published in theLancet indicated that children inherit about 70% of theirintelligence from their parents. The study indicated that the generesponsible for intelligence was carried by the X chromosome hence achild’s intelligence is most likely to be from the mother as shehas two X chromosomes as opposed to the father’s X and Ychromosomes. The federal policy and guidelines on literacy recognizesthe role of parents in shaping a child’s intellect and literacyskills through provisions of literacy services. Literacy services,which must be of adequate intensity and sufficient durations, shouldmake sustainable changes in a family and integrate all of thefollowing activities: (a) Training for parents on how to be theprincipal teacher for their children and full collaborator in theirchildren`s education, (b) Interactive literacy activities betweenparents and their children, (c) Parent literacy training that leadsto economic self-sufficiency, and (d) An age that is fit foreducation to prepare children for success (Handel, 1999).
Literacy is crucialfor society and families it can also have an impact on generationsand family households. However, to measure literacy, one mustunderstand what literacy is. Literacy is one of the strongestindicators of an adult’s success in life. Literacy levels varywidely by region, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and family rootsamong others. To highlight this variation are reports that indicatethat one in four children in America grows up without learning basicreading skills (Write Express Corporation 2014). As for adults, over40 million of them cannot read well enough to read a story book to achild another 50% of adults are unable to read a book written on aneighth grade level. Illiteracy also affects behavior over 70% ofinmates in American correctional facilities cannot read books writtenfor learners beyond 4th grade level. (National AdultLiteracy Survey, 1992). This means that illiteracy affects prospectsin life and also general functioning in the modern world.
Therefore, it is important for members of a household to learn how toread because it affects them in diverse ways. For instance, reading abedtime story to a child increases emotional bonds and generalfunctioning as a family unit. Literacy also has far-reachingimplications on educators. Chaney (2014) recommends that one shouldread daily, even for twenty minutes only. When people increase theirreading frequency, assuming they are capable of doing so, there is asense of emotional well-being. In addition, incarceration ratesdecrease as shown by aforementioned data. Furthermore, when there isa positive attitude toward literacy, members of a household performbetter financially and socially. Therefore, it is important tounderstand how a parent’s literacy level influences a child’sacademic success and possibly the child’s future as an adult.
Purpose of the Study
This study aimed at examining the relationship between a parent’sliteracy level and a child’s academic success. The study alsoattempted to determine participants’ perceptions on the importanceof reading both for academic and non-academic purposes.
To achievethe purpose of the study, the research was guided by severalquestions. These questions were best addressed in detail by thequestionnaires distributed to participants. Again, the study questionin this regard sought to provide an answer on the existing gap inknowledge that is filled up by the findings of the current study. Theresearcher developed one core research question and four supportingquestions.
Theresearch answered the following questionsCentral Question
What effect does aparent’s level of education have on a child’s academic success?
1. What effect doesa parent’s level of education have on a child’s level ofrecreational reading?
2. What effect doesa parent’s level of education have on how often he/she reviews thechild’s homework?
3. What effect doesa parent’s level of income have on a family engaging inrecreational reading?
4. What effect doesa parent’s level of income have on a child’s academicachievements?
To answer the above questions adequately, the study had to borrowfrom existing theories on the topic. One of the theories that thestudy borrowed from is the sociocultural theory. This is an emergingtheory in psychology that looks at the significant contributions thatsociety makes to an individual’s development. This theoryemphasizes the interaction between developing people and the culturein which they live or grow up. The theory is linked to the work ofseminal psychologist, Vygotsky, who believed that parents,caregivers, peers, and culture influences the development of higherorder functions. Thus, the theory focuses on not only how adults andpeers influence an individual’s learning, but also how attitudesand cultural beliefs may affect how instructions and learning takesplace in a given environment. Several past studies have addressedthis topic with varying findings.
There are studies that have addressed this topic, but not the currentset of research questions and hence that was the intention of thisresearch to fill the existing knowledge gap. Additionally, these paststudies played an important role in guiding the proposed study. Oneissue that was emphasized repeatedly by these studies is theimportance of literacy and the need to challenge illiteracy in themodern world. However, illiteracy cannot be conquered until thefamily as a unit begins to learn and realize the importance ofeducation. Furthermore, parents and teachers have to work together tofind common ground in eliminating illiteracy and ensure that thegeneral public understands the value of literacy.
According tothe U.S. Department of Education, literacy is defined as "theability to use printed and written information to function insociety. To achieve one`s goals, and to develop one`s knowledge andpotential" (White & McCloskey, 2003, p. 234). The state ofbeing illiterate is to lack the ability to read and write or the lackof any or enough education to read and write competently. The cost ofilliteracy to businesses and the taxpayer is in excess of $20 billionannually, which captures the dire need for increased literacy levelsin the country (United Way of America, 2010). If a child does notlearn to read well within the first few years of school, the chancesof poor academic performance increases significantly (About RIF,2010 Asche, 2009 Canada, 2008 National Institute of Child Health &Development-NICHD, 2005 National Institute for Literacy, 2008).Although early childhood literacy is the key to future success, 35%of American children arrive at kindergarten without the basiclanguage skills they need to learn to read (Reach Out and Read, 2008Chaney, 2014).
In the same way, literacy skills are not only important toindividuals, but also to governments. The US Department of Laborindicates that as literate children grow into adulthood, they possessgreater knowledge (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000) and experiencegreater psychological well-being and have a better opportunity incontributing towards national development (Canada, 2008). Literateindividuals are also more likely to reside in safer communities dueto lower levels of crime among literate communities (U.S. Departmentof Commerce, 2007), enjoy a better standard of living than theirilliterate or less literate counterparts (Asche, 2009) and lesslikely to face socioeconomic and behavioral problems later in life(National Research Council, 2002).
Conversely,illiteracy predicts several long-term adverse outcomes. They include,but are not limited to restricted access to information andemployment opportunities (Waters & Harris, 2009) and dropping outof school. In 2007, 8.8% of students from low-income families droppedout of school (U.S. Department of Commerce, 2011). High dropout ratesmay include early pregnancies for young girls or a relaxed attitudetowards education. High school dropout rates are also directly linkedto incarceration where illiteracy thrives (Alfred & Chlup, 2009Chaney, 2014). While ignorance increases incarceration rates, higherliteracy levels in a household have the opposite effect on childrenand prepare them for better educational outcomes. It can be assumedthat literate parents play a significant role in influencing theacademic performance and literacy levels of their children bycreating a suitable environment at home.
This idea of the environment that parents create at home to stimulateor hinder children’s literacy was the subject of a research studyby Abdullah-Welsh (2009). This particular study used a quantitativeapproach using a sample of 225 participants in a Texas elementaryschool. The survey was conducted to determine if there is a “gap”between the community (school) and the home environment. Many of theparticipants were parents, who were asked how often they read totheir children, whether they own books at home and what age did theirchild begin school. Results indicated that most of the participantsdid not own books and only read to their children about 50% of thetime. This resulted in a significant difference between the homes andschool environment where school was portrayed as the only learningenvironment and home was meant for relaxing and entertainment or anyother non-academic activities.
However, this gap can be closed through a number of ways. One wayrecommended by Abdullah-Welsh (2009) involves parents becoming moreconcerned in the language development of their children throughreading to them and thereby normalizing literacy in the household.The second way, also suggested by Abdullah-Welsh involves teacherswho can close the gap by using nontraditional ways to reach out tostudents in the classroom. For example, in addition to havingchildren read in literacy compatible groups, teachers may find thatthey can pair children who are highly literate with those who areliteracy deficient. Pairing instills confidence in the child with astrong foundation in literacy and builds confidence within the childwho has weaker literacy skills due to supportive readingrelationships with peers, who may be less intimidating than theteacher. Furthermore, the researcher recommended that schools andtheir teachers should create a high achievement orientation withteachers and parents. Schools should also host formal and informalreadings in schools (Abdullah-Welsh, 2009).
Besides teachers finding nontraditional methods to increaseliteracy rates, it is imperative that educators stress to childrenand their families the value of literacy. In particular, teachers andparents have to combat adverse outcomes, such as dropout andincarceration rates through literacy. Additionally, by having theentire family unit interacting with children in the home environmentencourages more children at home to read. Individual families haveunique styles of communication and interactions, which influences howthey choose to integrate literacy and reading practices (Bowman,2000). This implies that there is no universal method that familiescan adopt to increase literacy levels at home. They are free todevelop tailor-made approaches that suit their circumstances.
Nonetheless, the outcome is the same. Better support for literacy at home from parents and family members leads to better literacy levelsfor children than those who come from homes in which there is littlesupport for literacy (Clark, 1976 Leseman & DeJong, 1998Morrow, 2001 Taylor & Dorsey-Gaines, 1988). Previous researchillustrates many ways in which parents can support literacy (Baker,Sonnenschein, Serpell, Fernandez-Fein, & Scher, 1994 Dickinson &Beals, 1994 Neuman & Roskos, 1997). Parental literacy supportincludes the literacy activities in which parents participate withtheir children at home. Parents who have had a positive experience with their efforts in learning to read and write arelikely to transmit a positive experience to their children beforethey enroll them in school. Researchers indicate reiterate thatparents have the crucial job of aiding their children to developcognitively and social-emotionally while also helping them to preparefor their future academic endeavors (Donohue, 2008 Morrow, 2001).
Children who have difficulty learning to read when they enter schoolmay lack the initial literacy skills needed to succeed in school(Whitehurst & Storch, 2002). One may argue that successfulreaders, and in turn, successful students, have been found in homesof various economic and ethnic backgrounds as long as theircaregivers encouraged early literacy development (Clark, 1976Okagaki & Frensch, 1998 Taylor & Dorsey-Gaines, 1988).According to Donahue (2008), factors associated with a child’sparents, family, or the general home environment have a greaterimpact on academic achievement than school-related factors. A parentis the child’s first teacher, and both qualitative and quantitativestudies have shown that a parental behavior, such as reading tochildren daily and having a positive interaction with teachersincreases literacy. According to these researchers, by issuing a richfamily literacy surrounding, the parent may support the academicgrowth of their siblings and assist them in literacy development.Children who are keen readers are read to daily, parents providebooks and encouragement, and children see adults reading and parentsexpress positive attitudes toward reading (Donohue, 2008).
The home literacy environment is a significant predictor ofchildren’s cognitive growth and academic achievement (Christian etal., 1998 Griffin & Morrison, 1997 Teale, 1986). In their studyof 317 kindergarten children and their parents, in which half of thesample were Caucasian and half were African-American, Christian etal. (1998) found that the family literacy environmentwas a predictor of children`s academic skills. The family literacyenvironment was also found to be related to reading achievement,verbal achievement, alphabet recognition, and general information.These researchers found that the children of mothers who were lesseducated, but scored high on the Home Literacy Environment (HLE)outperformed children whose better-educated mothers scored lower onthe Griffin and Morrison’s (1997) Home Literacy Environment scale.This study also showed that children who had more books at home werestronger readers (Invernizzi, 2004).
A study conducted by Kelli Donahue and New York Department ofEducation (2008) used a sample size of 106 participants (all parentswhose 4-6 years old children were in kindergarten over the course ofa school year). Participants were requested to respond to questionsabout their age, marital status and to identify the primarycaregiver. Results revealed that there was a strong connectionbetween home environment and literacy skills. Those children, whoseparents had positive attitudes toward literacy and engaged theirchildren in literacy activities despite being single, married orcohabiting developed stronger literacy skills (Donohue, 2008).
In addition, there was evidence that children are more active inreading when siblings and other members of the household are engagedin active or recreational reading. For example reading books,magazines or newspapers with members of a child’s family encourageschildren to read more, and it helped children to become strongerreaders (Invernizzi, 2004). Literacy gaps are present when childrenstart school and continue as they proceed. To address this concernnon-school factors including communities and families must play arole in the acquisition of knowledge and skills. A study by JaneWaldfogel of Columbia University revealed that parents and the homeenvironment are critical to children’s early literacy. Parents (andextended family members) can provide a rich learning environment forreading and other cognitively stimulating activities, such as the useof a computer or visits to a library (Bowman, 2000).
Data from a home read-aloud survey and observation checklist showedthat parents’ workshop instructions together with the practice ofthe read-aloud strategies and techniques resulted in substantialincrease in the quantity and quality of read-aloud experiences in thehome. Again, participants had a better understanding of theirchildren`s emerging literacy. The outcomes of this survey are insupport of the sociocultural theory that parents reading aloud totheir children promote literacy. Furthermore, this study supports theviability of schools implementing reading projects that can play amajor role in enhancing the literacy environment of the home. Theroots of literacy are provided by early experiences in the home. Whatmany parents may do to assist their children learn is more criticalto their academic success than the family`s financial status orsocial class. The family`s value of education is transferred from onegeneration to the next. Programs that teach and encourage parents howto read aloud to their children may help to avert difficultiesexperienced by some beginning readers (Nickse, 1989 France &Meeks, 1987). A strong support for reading aloud to children issupported by research (Invernizzi, 2004).
For instance, Abdullah-Welsh (2009) showed through research thatparents reading aloud to their children had a positive influence onthe children’s intelligence, creativity, self-concept, vocabularydevelopment and building on the contributions parents have alreadymade. Schools are beginning to provide programs that teach parentsand children together. Such programs that aim to raise the readingability, behavior of adults and interfere with the cycle of lowlevels of literacy have been termed” Intergenerational literacyprograms” (Abdullah-Welsh 2009, p. 181).
Literacy begins to emerge from living in literate households whilefurnished with many literacy experiences (Silvern, 1989). Lack ofliteracy experiences in the home often causes a cycle of lowliteracy to be transmitted from one generation to another. Manychildren are entering kindergarten without having quality experiencesof being read to by their parents or other adults. Many of thesechildren are having difficulty learning to read. The lack ofrequisite language skills is believed to be one of the causesassociated with a problem with formal reading instruction (Donohue,2008).
Research indicates that children who become early readers and whoshow a natural interest in books are more likely to come fromfamilies in which parents, siblings, or other individuals have readto them regularly. Frequent story readings at home help childrenbecome familiar with book language and recognize the function ofwritten language. Story readings are pleasurable and a social eventthat contributes to building a desire and interest in reading.Similarly, continued exposure to books develops children`s vocabularyand sense of story structure, both of which help them learn to read(Teal, 1981 Doake, 1981 Strickland, 1990 Tobin, 1981). Researchalso indicates that children who lack an adequate quantity of qualityreading experiences allowed in the home may be at a disadvantage whenformal reading instruction begins (Halen, 1994 Lovington, 1980).Several programs that are attempting to educate parents about readingto their children and encourage them to do so are being implementedacross the United States (Invernizzi, 2004). No concrete studies havebeen carried out to assess the success of these programs or thecurrent status of parent-child literacy interactions.
Nonetheless, what is clear is that there is potential in parent-childinteractions and the home environment to influence children’sliteracy levels. The literacy level in the US is not just a statisticthat the country can use to compare its development record with othercountries. Instead, it should be perceived as a critical issue thathas far-reaching effects on the entire country culturally,economically, socially and even politically. Therefore, it isimportant for ordinary people to attach a degree of importance toreading and literacy noting that it benefits them, their children andthe country. Parents should join teachers in working towards creatinga literate generation of youngsters for a brighter future.Researchers should also play their part in developing new approachesthat parents and families can employ in improving literacy levels ofchildren. In playing this role, the following section describes themethodology that will be used to capture the perceptions of parentsregarding parental literacy and their child’s academic performance.
A quantitative survey strategy of inquiry was used to determine theperceptions and opinions of Governor State University students whohad earned at least a high school diploma and have school-agechildren attending grade kindergarten and through twelfth grade. Aquantitative survey inquiry was selected to enable the researcher inidentifying the trends in current practices by parents in regards tofamily literacy in the home environment (Creswell, 2012). This datawas compared to recommendations made by past studies as detailed inthe literature review.
The population wasstudents who attend Governor State University, who had school agechildren. Sampling gave a representation of the target population(Peters et al., 2005, p. 209-224). These participants were at leasteighteen years old and had at least one child who was attendinggrades kindergarten through twelfth grade. Convenience sampling wasused to identify the sample. Convenience sampling is anon-probability sampling technique where subjects are selectedbecause of their convenient accessibility and proximity to theresearcher.
Questionnaires were distributed along with pen and pencil. Thequestionnaire consisted of sixteen questions that were used to gatherparticipants’ opinions and perceptions on literacy. The researcherused an ordinal measurement scale to capture participants’perceptions on the relationships between a parent’s level ofeducation and the child’s academic performance.
Data Collection and Data Analysis
One hundredquestionnaires were distributed to Governor State University studentsin the Hall of Governors along with pencils and pen. The participantswere asked to volunteer and complete the consent form and thequestionnaire. The questionnaire took the respondents a maximum offifteen minutes to complete. The research was cross-sectional theresearcher collected all data at one time. Consent forms were givento each participant before completing the questionnaire to assureparticipants of their privacy and also to ensure that theparticipants understand the purpose of the research. The consent formshowed evidence that the participants were well informed of theresearch and gave consent to willingly participates in the research.
The study faced several limitations. One of the major limitations isthat the study had a narrow sample given that it only focused onGovernor State University students as opposed to the entire nation.Another major limitation was technology limitation given that theresearcher would have preferred distribution of questionnaires onlinethrough email.
Population for Male and Female
Theresearch found that 71% of the total population was female and only29% were male.
Shows the effect of parent’s education levelto a child’s academic success
Fromthe respondents it was found that 92% of the total population agreedthat parental literacy is vital to child’s academic success, only1% among them strongly disagree and 7% disagreed too as Associatestogether with those without degrees agreed.
Shows the effects of parent’s level of incomeon child’s academic achievement
Level of Income
Less than $25000
$100000 or more
From the above table 85% of the totalrespondents agreed that parent’s annual income accounts largely forchild’s academic achievement through recreation reading. However15% disagree because other social factors
From thequestionnaire, respondents had mixed reactions to the determinationof a child’s success and achievement. They stated that there was noa single factor that could determine overall child success. However,parent literacy revealed greater positive impact on the child successas most of the Graduates, Associated, Bachelors and some with nodegrees strongly agreed that a child’s success is largelydetermined by the parental literacy.
The research foundthat parent’s level of education was significant to the child’slevel of recreation reading, from the respondents learned had greaterimpact in encouraging recreation reading to their children.
The research adoptedmultiple regression analysis where Child’s success was a dependedvariable predicted by, parent’s level of education, annual income,and their involvement in overall child’s school progress.
The regression modelfit was thus: Y (Child’sSuccess) = 0.286 + 0.486 Parentliteracy + 0.16 Annual income + 0.202Involvement in School progres+0.077Gender, Age, and Race.
Regressionrelationship between child’s success and the independent variablesis statistically significant at 5% level of significance (F=41.242,p-value=0.000<0.05).
Therespondents stated that a number of variables enhance a child’ssuccess and achievements. These includes, gender, race, level ofeducation, annual income, and the age.
Level of education
The results ofmultiple regressions revealed that level has a positive andsignificant effect on child’s overall success with a beta value ofβ1 = 0.486 (p-value = 0.000 which is less than α = 0.05).Therefore, it can be argued that for each unit increase in level ofeducation, there is 0.486 unit increase in child’s success andachievement.
The resultsshowed that the standardized coefficient beta and p value of annualincome were positive and significant (beta = 0.16, p < 0.05).Thus, the researcher argued that, it has a positive and significanteffect on child’s performance.
Based on thefindings of this study, it can be concluded that Parent’s level ofeducation, their annual income, and involvement in child’s academicprogress are positively significant variables on child’s academicperformance because their p-value is less than 0.05. Parentinvolvement has a significant positive impact on student outcomes.Further, parents’ interest in their learning is of paramountimportance.
Recommendationsfor Further Research
Intervention programs should be designed to enable family members to construct useful meanings and definitions of literacy. This will help to deal with the research gaps.
There is a need to put in place measures and systems that continuously inform the school management on the child’s academic performance.
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ParentsLiteracy and Overall Child`s Academic Success
The purpose of thisstudy is to gather participants who have children’s opinions andperceptions on literacy.
Please fill in thespace below that best relates to you.
1. What is yourgender?
2. What is yourrace?
Asian or Pacific Islander
Others (please specify)
3. In which categoryis your age?
4. How many childrendo you have?
More than 5
5. What categorybest depicts your annual household income?
Less than $25,000
$25,000 to $49,999
$50,000 to $99,999
$100,000 or more
6. What is thehighest level of education you have completed?
12th grade or less (no diploma)
High school diploma
Some college, no degree
Associate or technical degree
7. Do you read toyour children at least one hour a day, every day?
8. Based on yourobservations, does having books in your home encourage recreationalreading?
9. Spending timewith family involves reading together for fun?
10. How often do youcheck your child (ren)`s homework?
Not very often
11. Do you believe aparent`s involvement in early child literacy is the key to theiracademic success?
l2. Do you spendtime doing homework with your child at least one hour a day, everyday?
13. Do you believethe educational level of a parent affects the child`s achievement inschool?
14. How often do youcheck on your child’s progress in school?
Twice a week
Once a week
15. Do you believethat parents should supplement the teachers’ work by teaching theirschool-going children while at home?
16. What level ofimportance do you place on the issue of parents contacting a child’steacher about the academic performance and behavior of a child atschool?
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