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The emergent literacy skills of four-year-old children receiving free kindergarten early childhood education in New Zealand

This study investigated the emergent literacy and language skills of four-year-old children in New Zealand during their kindergarten year prior to school-entry. A total of 92 four-year-old children from a range of socio-economic areas were seen individually at their local kindergarten and were assessed on code-related measures (letter name knowledge, initial phoneme awareness, emergent name writing) and meaning-related measures (story comprehension and retelling ability). Approximately, 60% of the parents completed a home literacy questionnaire. Regression analyses showed no effect for age on any of the code-related measures. In contrast, significant effects for age were found on story comprehension and retelling ability. There were no differences in performance based on gender with two exceptions: Girls performed better than boys on letter name knowledge and early name writing. Questionnaire results suggested literacy activities were valued in the home environment with most parents reporting reading to their child each night, and the majority of parents reported owning more than 60 children's books. Results from the current study suggest more explicit teaching may be necessary within the kindergarten curriculum to facilitate the code-related skills linked to successful word recognition ability and early spelling development. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
New Zealand

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