Phonics is important, but we want kids to play: Parental perceptions of phonics and code-related literacy teaching and learning in preschools.

Year: 2018

Author: Campbell, Stacey

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This quantitative survey research investigated parental perceptions about phonics instruction and code-related literacy learning in early childhood.  Parental pressure to include more formalised ‘school type’ literacy lessons is reported as a factor influencing the types of phonics teaching practices young children encounter in prior-to-school settings (Campbell, in press; Campbell, 2015; Campbell, Torr & Cologon 2014). Parents’ beliefs about literacy plays an important role in supporting children’s literacy development (Lynch, 2008; 2010). This study draws on theories defining parental beliefs about early literacy and current code-related literacy research. A Likert scale and open-ended question on-line survey study was employed. Data were collected from parents (n = 62) across six early childhood settings in South East Queensland.  The settings included private long day care centres (two-to-five year olds, open 50 weeks per year), community-based kindergartens (three-to-five year olds, open during school terms) and school-based early learning centres (three-to-five-year year olds, Preschool-to-Year 12 school). The survey data were analysed using quantitative statistical methods, and findings will be presented. The study revealed parent respondents valued child-centred literacy practices through play, oral language experiences and shared picture book reading, as paramount for children’s code-related literacy development.  Whilst respondents reported alphabetic literacy knowledge important, they were divided in their views on the level of emphasis placed on explicit systematic phonics instruction, including school-type phonics worksheets and commercial phonics programs. Parents with children attending school-based early learning centres were more likely to place higher importance on phonics and name writing, than parents of children in stand-alone long day care centres and community-based kindergartens. This study contributes to current research investigating parent literacy beliefs, home literacy practices, play-literacy pedagogies and phonics in early childhood.  This study has implications for development of effective home-school literacy partnerships.