Although publicly-funded prekindergarten (pre-k) programs have been designed to promote children’s school readiness, programs have tended to support early literacy skills to a greater degree than early language skills. Given the importance of both language and literacy skills for children’s reading acquisition and academic achievement, the present study sought to understand whether different pre-k classroom instructional practices were related to gains in language and/or literacy skills. Teacher–child language exchanges, children’s engagement in domain-specific learning activities, and the use of different types of activity settings were examined in 63 pre-k classrooms for 455 children living in six rural counties in the Southeastern United States. Hierarchical linear models showed that gains in expressive language were positively associated with teacher–child language exchanges and negatively associated with large-group activities. Gains in phonemic awareness and initial-sound knowledge were positively related to sound-focused activities and small-group settings. Gains in reading decoding skills were also positively associated with small-group settings. Implications for research, teacher practice, and professional development are discussed. (author abstract)
Frequency of instructional practices in rural prekindergarten classrooms and associations with child language and literacy skills
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