Factors contributing to caregivers' behaviours with print and children's emergent reading development in Thiks District, Kenya
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Reading is a developmental process that begins in infancy and continues throughout life. During the formative years children develop certain reading related behaviours that are crucial for later reading. The physical and social environment that children are brought up in influences their reading related development, their attitudes towards reading and their future success in reading. This study was an exploratory study on factors influencing caregivers' behaviours involving print with 30 to 42 months old children and children's emergent reading behaviours. The study was guided by three theoretical perspectives: Marie Clay's Emergent Literacy perspective, Holdaway's theory of Literacy Development and Vygotsky's social interaction theory. The study was conducted in Thika district, Kenya. The district was purposively selected. The caregivers and children were randomly selected. The study employed a combination of multiple case study and survey research designs. The multiple case studies generated hypotheses for study in the survey. The population of the multiple case studies comprised of four sets of 30 to 42 months old children and their caregivers. The multiple case studies showed that the home print environment and children's experiences around print materials varied across households. Caregivers employed appropriate and inappropriate behaviours and strategies around print with children. These behaviours were found to impact on children's emergent reading development. Caregivers employed more direct behaviours and strategies than direct behaviours and strategies involving print. Caregiver-child interactions around print materials increased with increase in range and frequency of print materials in the home environment. Several factors appeared to influence caregivers' behaviours and strategies around print materials with children. This led to formulation of 13 hypotheses that were tested with the larger survey. The survey sample comprised of 133 caregivers. Hypotheses generated from the multiple case studies were studied. There were three contextual variables whose effect on dependent variables was studied: caregiver's years of schooling (CYS), caregiver's role definition (CRD) and average household income (AHI). There were three process variables: caregiver's direct behaviours and strategies score (CDBS), caregiver's indirect behaviours and strategies score (CIBS) and (caregiver's total behaviours and strategies score (CTBS). CDBS, CIBS and CTBS correlated with CYS. It was concluded that caregiver's level of education influenced caregiver's behaviours and strategies. Caregivers were found to be largely unaware of their role in children's emergent reading development. There was a strong correlation between CDBS and CRD, CIBS and CRD and between CTBS and CRD. It was concluded that caregivers with a positive role definition were more likely to stimulate children's emergent reading development than caregivers with a negative role definition. There was a positive correlation between the AHI and CDBS, AHI and CIBS and between AHI and CTBS. The most important predictor of caregivers' behaviours and strategies with children around print materials was caregiver's role definition.