Early literacy development and school readiness: perceptions and practices of parents having 3-5 years old children in Dhaka city
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Research on early literacy in Bangladesh is mostly concentrated on poorly resourced environments and early literacy practices done by illiterate parents of lower socio-economic communities in rural areas. This study aimed to explore educated parents' perceptions and practices towards early literacy related skills in urban context at home settings. Additionally, it examined the home literacy interventions of 3-5 years old children and their pre-literacy skills in relation to school readiness. Data in this study collected through home observations and in-depth interviews with five mothers and conducted in natural home settings. The questionnaire was pretested and translated pdor to the actual study. This study is followed by three main research questions such as, parental perceptions towards early literacy and school readiness, availability of literacy materials and the process of doing literacy activities at home. Qualitative approach and purposive sample technique were employed in doing the study. Study reveals that educated parents prefer doing informal and unstructured early literacy promotional activities at home settings. They moderately mediate and facilitate early literacy promotional activities along with moderate facilitation of available resources at homes. Parents view home is the main repository for acquiring literacy skills but there lies lack of understanding towards the contributing factors that makes positive home literacy environment. Early reading is viewed as only beneficial for children's academic success and the benefits of early reading associated with other domains (social, emotional, psychosocial etc) are mostly overlooked in parents' responses. Parents are unable to model the behavior of story books reading to their children due to their own literacy habits and knowledge gap, and it works as a reason of conducting less story book reading sessions at home settings. Data suggests that parents seem to be unaware of the fact that shared reading can be a contributing factor to early literacy. Additionally, study reveals that social behavior of schools mostly determines what preJiteracy skills these age group children bring to schools as part of their school readiness. Child's own ability in academic skills is viewed as his/her'school readiness' and readiness in other domains along with family's readiness is overlooked in parent's responses. The study highlighted that educated parents have the understanding that their roles and contribution are factors for promoting children's early literacy but they have inadequate understanding and knowledge gap regarding the significance of their involvement in child's literate life. That's' why parents moderately scaffold and facilitate early literacy promotional activities and available resources at homes despite having opportturities. If parents were more conscious about the significance of their engagement in children's literate life, they might view 'family readiness' essential for child's 'school readiness.'