Pathways to early literacy: The complex interplay of child, family, and sociocultural factors

Tags: New York, Morrison, environment, children's literacy development, learning environment, literacy skills, development, parenting style, Child Developmellt, A Morrison, E. M. Hetherington, children's school, Griffin & Morrison, Cambridge University Press, book reading, academic outcomes, American schoolchildren, young children, Asian-American, social skills, social adjustment, CHILD CARE, Kessenichand Morrison, authoritarian parenting
Megan M. McClelland
COP7riPtD3, ~ ~ asA-2DA07r,i.p, t8
(USA). 135.00
MeglJnM. McCleillDld et aI.
I. Introduction Modem conceptualizations in developmental sciencesuggestthat our understanding of children's early growth and learning will be enhanced by viewing development from a dynamic, multilevel, and interactive framework (Cairns, Elder, &:. Costello, 1996; Gottlieb, Wahlsten, &:. Lickliter, 1998;Thelen &:.Smith, 1998).As a consequence,researchhas begun to move away from a focus on primarily microanalytic, laboratorybasedmethodologiesto incorporate a more applied and dynamic ecological model of development. This paradigm shift hasstemmed,in part, from a growing appreciation of the complexrelations that exist betweenmany levelsof influencethat shape children's development.As the need to seedevelopmentfrom a multilevel, interactive framework hasgrown, researchershavesoughtwaysto bring this perspectiveto life. This has led to advancesin methodologiesand analytic techniques,which have allowed researchersto examine complex relations among different factors affecting children's development. In the present chapter we use the ecological and dynamic system perspectivesas a framework for describingthe nature and sourcesof children's early literacy development. We discuss important child, family, sociocultural, and schooling factors influencing children's literacy acquisition
Patllways to Early Literacy
such as children's social skills and temperament, the family learning
environment and aspects of parenting, soci~nomic status, and racel
ethnicity, and the effectthat classroominstruction hason children's literacy
skills. We outline the multiple pathways to literacy developmentas well as
the dynamic relations among these factors. Finally, we provide examples
of how the pathways to literacy can be describedusing a combination of
variable-basedand person-orientedanalytic procedures.
At the end of the 20th century, the field of developmental psychology
underwent a paradigm shift. moving away from a static view of human
developmentand toward a dynamic, interactive, and multilevel framework
(Bronfenbrenner, 1989; Gottlieb, Wablsten, & LickJiter, 1998; Thelen &
Smith, 1998).This changein coD<%ptualizationarosepartly from limitations
in seeingdevelopmentas a set of universal and unchanging properties and
from a growing appreciation of context and environmental inftuences
shapingdevelopment(Cairns, Elder, & Costello, 1996;Morrison & Ornstein,
1996). For example, researchfocusing on aspectsof children's cognitive
skills suchasmemory, literacy, and academicskills indicate that culture and
context playa large role in the trajectory of children's learning and that
growth in theseareasdependsin part on being in a formalized educational
~tting (Ceci & Roam, 1994;Rogoff, 1998).
Moreover, environmental influences on children's development are
weD documented. Researchers have demonstrated the importance for
children's early literacy development of family factors such as parenting
and tJte family learning environment (Griffin & Morrison, 1997; Hart &
Risley, 1995;McCleDand,Morrison, & Holmes. 2000;Morrison & Cooney,
2002), sociocultural factors such as socioeconomicstatus (SES) and race/
ethnicity (Bachman, Morrison, & Bryant, 2002; Jencks & Phillips, 1998),
and schooling influences such as amount and type of instruction (Freese
et oJ., 2002; McDonald Connor, Morrison, & Katch, 2002).
As theoretical perspectiveshave embraceddynamic and ecologicalviews
of development, researchershave focused on variables that interact on
multiple levels to determine development. Appreciation of the complex
relations among variables has challenged researchers to find ways to
adequately capture the complexity of development that incorporates these multilevel relations.
In the remainder of the chapter we examine the nature and sourcesof
early literacy acquisition as a way to illustrate the multiple child, family, and
sociocultural factors influencing development. In addition, the focus on
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literacy will illuminate some of the complex dynamic pathways shaping developmentthat emergefrom the application of recentvariable-basedand person-oriented strategies. B. THE NA TUR.E OF EARLY LJ1"EI.ACY DEVELOPMENT It isclearthat significantnumbersof children and adultsdo not acquirethe literacy and numeracyskills neededfor sua:essin schooland in the workplare (Mullis & Jenkins,1990;Raynerel aI., 2001;Steinberg,1996;US Department of Education, 1991). Moreover, substantial variability in children's early literacy skills emergeseven before fonnal schooling begins (Alexander & Entwisle, 1988;Hart & Rjs1ey,1995;Morrison, Griffith, ct Williamson, 1993; Morrison el aI., 1995;Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000; Stevensonel al., 1976; Weinert & Helmke, 1998).As a consequencea, solution to America's literacy problems must addressthe mosaicof interrelated forcesin the child, family, school, and sociocultural environment that shapeearly literacy achild care have also been linked to children's preschool cognitive and language skills (Bachman, Morrison. & Bryant, 2002; NICHD Early Child Care ResearchNetwork, 2W; alker el aI., 1994).Moreover, researchershave begun to demonstraterelations betweenthe quality of early schooling and amount of direct instruction, and children's literacy outcomes(Freeseel aI., 2002).Emergingresearchindicatesthat it is the complexinteractions among thesesourcesof variability that combine to influencechildren's early literacy development(Molfese, DiLalla, & Lovelare, 1996;Morrison el aI., 2002). The impact of child, family, schooling,and sociocultural factorson children's literacy skills is best understood within the context of each of the other
Pathwaysto EIrly Ut~acy
imposing factors. Once we identify the complex array of mediational and moderational relations among thesevarious influences,we will havea more comprehensiveappreciationof the origins of children's literacy development.
Early elementary school children vary considerably in their academic
competence(Alexander & Entwisle, 1988;Morrison, Griffith, & Williamson,
1993;Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000;Stevenson,Chen,& Lee, 1993).By the time children completefirst grade,they are already demonstrating a broad range
of skills in subjects such as vocabulary, reading, general knowledge, and
mathematics. Morrison, Griffith, and Williamson (1993) discovered that
individual differencesin children's early literacy skills either remain unchan-
ged or are magnified as children progressthrough early elementary~hool.
Yet few researchershave focused on the degreeof variability in early
literacy skills prior to school entry. Morrison, Griffith, and Williamson
(1993) also detected substantial individual differences in vocabulary
comprehension at kindergarten entry, with age equivalencies on the
PeabodyPicture Vocabulary Test ranging from 2 to II years of age.
Using a large national sample of children from the NICHD Study of
Early Child Care and Youth Development,Raviv, Kessenich,and Morrison
(2002) found substantial individual differencesin cognitive and language
skills asearly as 2 and 3 yearsof age.For example,at age3, developmental
age equivalencieson the Reynell Expressive Language and Vocabulary
Comprehensionsubsca1ersangedfrom I to 5 yearsof age.Moreover, scores
on the Bracken basic concepts Scale, which measures recognition of
letters, numbers,shapes,and colors, also demonstrateda wide rangeof skill
levels.Also notable was the stability in cognitive and languageskills found
between 2 and 3 years of age. Twenty-four-month Bayley and 36-month
Bracken scores,which both measurecognitive skills, were strongly correlated (r= .53,p < .I)a,swere24-month MacArthur (a languagemeasure) and the 36-month Reynell Developmental Language subscales(r = .32 for
ExpressiveLanguage,and r= .41 for ReceptiveLanguage,p < ..
In summary, sizeable individual differences in children's early literacy
skills emergebefore schoolentry and are reasonablystablefrom 2 to 3 years
(Shonkoff & Phillips, 2.
on the sourcesof this early emerging variability. In fact, a growing body of researchindicatesa variety of characteristicsin the child, family, school,
and sociocultural environment that combine to shape children's early
literacy outcomes(Morrison et aI., 1995;Shonkoff & Phillips, 2important to explore both the individual and interactive influences that
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these various factors have on children's academicskills in order to successfullayddressthe nation'sliteracyproblem.
ll. Child Factors and Early Literacy Development A child's individual characteristicsexhibit a large influenceon his or her literacy development and help determine whether that child will make a successfultransition to kindergarten. HistoricaUy, the discussionof child factors affecting early literacy development has focused on cognitive characteristicssuch as intelligenceand IQ, as well as other factors such as language and phonological skills (Adams, 1990; Rayner et aI., 2001). However, other factors such as temperament and social skills also contribute to literacy development (Kessenich & Morrison, 2002; McClelland &; Morrison, 2003; Morrison et al., 2002). A. IQ A large body of evidencehas documentedthe relation betweenchild IQ and cognitive, literacy, and academic skills (Morrison, Griffith, & Williamson, 1993; Seigel, 1981; Smith et aI., 1972). For example, Morrison, Griffith, and Williamson (1993) found that children's IQ exhibited a strong influence on reading, vocabulary, general knowledge, and mathematicsbetweenkindergartenand secondgrade.In addition, IQ at 24 months (measuredwith the Bayley Scalesof Infant Development-II) was significantly predictive of cognitive and language skills at 36 months (measured with the Bracken Basic Concept Scale and the Reynell Developmental LanguageScales;Kessenich& Morrison, 2002). B. LANGUAGE AND PHONOLOGICAL SKILLS There is a substantial literature documenting the influence of children's languageand phonologicalskills in children's readingand literacy acquisition (Adams, 1990;Hart & Risley, 1995;Rayner et al., 2001; Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998).As wehavealreadynoted, therearelargeindividual differences in children's languageand vocabulary skills prior to school entry (Hart & Risley, 1995;Stipek & Ryan, 1997).This variability in languagesk:illshas important implications for children's phonological awarenessand, in turn, for learningto read:phonological awarenessis the most important prcdictor of early reading skills (Adams, 1990;Rayner et aI., 2001). Phonological awareness is defined as the extent to which a child recognizesthe internal structure of words and can perform tasks such as
Pathwaysto Emly Uteracy
identifying the beginning or ending sounds of words. Children who have strong phonological skills have an easier time learning to read than children with weak phonological skills (Rayner et aI., 2001). The relation between a child's phonological skill and reading ability is bidirectional. Children's phonological awarenessenables them to learn to read more easily and as they are exposed to instructions in spelling and sound, they continue to refine their understanding of phonology. Moreover, reading programs that provide direct instruction in phonological skills can improve children's reading skills (Blachman, 1989; Wise, Ring, & Olson, 1999). ~ C. SOCIALSKILl5
A growing body of researchhas indicated the importance of children's early social behavior on school adaptation and achievement(DeRosier, Kupemnidt, &; Patterson, 1994;Dishion, 1990;Ladd, 1990;Ladd & Price, 1987). Children entering school with poor social behavior often have a plethora of problems including peer rejection, behavior problems, and low levels of academic achievement (Alexander, Entwisle, & Dauber, 1993; Cooper & Farran, 1988; McClelland, Morrison & Holmes, 2.
There hasbeenan increasedinterestin how to definelearning-relatedsocial skills with researchersfrom a number of theoretical perspectiveslabeling
Merma M. McCkllmtd el aI.
thesesk:.illsdifferently. For example,someof the termsusedincludeexecutive
functioning skills (Bronson, 2K;armiloff-Smith, 1993),self-regulation
(Bronson, 2S;honkoff &; Phillips, 2Bronson,Tivnan, &;Seppanen,1995),and socialcompetence(Rose-Krasnor,
1997;Wentzel, 1991, 1993).Although theseterms come from a variety of
perspectives,they reBecta similar constellation of sk:.illsand encompassa
number of behaviors relating to attention, self-regulation, independence,
organization, and cooperation. For simplicity, in the presentchapter we use
the term /earning-relatedsocial skills to describebehaviors such as listening
and following directions, participating appropriately in groups (such as
tak:ing turns), staying on task, and organizing work materials (Cooper &
Farran, 1991;McClelland, Morrison &; Holmes, 2Existing ~h
has pointed to the importance of children's learning-
related social skills for early school success and school adjustment.
For example, Ladd, Birch, and Bubs (1999) found that children's
classroomparticipation and their ability to be cooperativeand independent
in k:indergartenwas an important predictor of early school achievement.
In addition, Bronson, Tivnan, and Seppanen(1995) found that prekinder-
garten children who spent more time uninvolved in the classroom and
had difficulty with rules or the teacher scored lower on a standardized
cognitive achievementmeasure. These children also exhibited more risk
indicators such as family problems, lower parental education, and
behavioral or emotional problems.
Oncechildren make the transition to school, learning-relatedsocial skills
continue to be linked to a child's academicsuccessT. heseearly skills can be
said to "set the stage" for later social behavior and academicperformance
by providing the foundation for positive classroom behavior. In a study
examining the relation between classroom behavior and school perform-
ance,Alexander, Entwisle,and Dauber (1993)found that children who were
interested in classroomactivities and were able to focus and pay attention
performed significantly better on academicoutcomesin the first grade and
fourth grade. In addition, McOeUand, Morrison, and Holmes (2unique contribution of learning-related social skills to children's academic
achievement at the beginning of kindergarten and at the end of
second grade. They found that learning-related sk:.illsuniquely predicted
literacy and academic outcomes at both time points after controlling
for the effects of children's IQ, age at school entrance, amount of pre-
school experience, ethnicity, parents' education, and family learning
environment. Theseinvestigators also examined characteristicsof those children with
poor learning-relatedskills, and the relation of poor learning-relatedsk:.ills
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to academicachievementat school entry and at the end of secondgrade. Children with poor learning-related skills were found to differ from the overall sample on a number of child, family, and sociocultural variables including: significantly lower IQs, more behavior difficulties, poorer family learning environments, and more medical problems such as hearing and language problems. Finally, children with low learning-related skills scoredlower on academicoutcomesat the beginning of kindergarten and at the end of secondgrade, and learned at significantly slower rates than their peers betweenschool entry and second grade on measuresof reading recognition and mathematics (McClelland, Morrison & Holmes, 2000).They continued to perform poorly on readingand mathematicsat the end of sixth grade and fell increasinglymore behind their peersin reading and mathematics between kindergarten and sixth grade (McClelland & Hansen, 200I ). Children with poor learning-relatedskills evidently start formal schooling behind their peerson many literacy indicesand continue to perform at lower levels in reading and mathematics between kindergarten and sixth grade. Theseresultsalso support the importance of learning-relatedsocial skills at the beginning of school and continuing to sixth grade (McClelland, Morrison & Holmes, 2(MM)M; cClelland & Hansen,2001). Given evidencepointing to the importance of children's learning-related social skills for early literacy and academicachievement,it is important to look at factors that influencethe developmentof early social behavior. One factor that has emergedas being particularly salient for children's social skills is child temperament. E. TEMPERAMENT Rothbart and Bates (1998) have defined temperament as a subset of personality that describesindividual differencesin self-regulation,emotionality, motor activity, attention, and reactivity, which are relatively stable over time. Most of the researchin temperamenthas looked at the relations betw~ children's temperamentand social behavior. The literature has not found much evidencefor direct links betweenchildren's temperamentand early literacy skills, but instead has focused on support for indirect and interacting relations betweentemperament,social behavior, and literacy or academicachievement(e.g.,Rothbart & Bates, 1998).To better understand how children's temperament and social behavior may indircctIy or interactively influence literacy skills, it is useful to examine the relation betweentemperamentand social behavior. Temperament is linked consistently to social behavior and adjustment (Kagan, 1998;Rothbart & Bates, 1998).In one study, Rothbart. Ahadi, and
Megan M. McCklkllld et al.
Hershey (1994) examined relations betweenmeasuresof temperamentand social behaviorsdefined by empathy, guilt/shame, aggression,help-seeking, and negativity for 80 6- to 7-year-olds. Children scoring high on temperamental traits such as irritability, anger, and discomfort exhibited more antisocial behavior in elementaryschool(Rothbart, Ahadi, & Hershey, 1994).The results of this study and other research(seeRothbart & Bates, 1998) have linked temperament to children's social adjustment and have also demonstratedhow aspectsof temperamentcan be linked to children's social skills as they develop over the preschool and early school years. Onetemperamentalcomponent,Emotion regulation, is specificallyrelated to the developmentof social skiDs(Kopp, 1989;Shonkoff & Phillips, 2(XX». Emotion regulation, definedasthe ability to copewith high levelsof positive and negative emotions (Kopp, 1989), is related to social adjustment (Rubin et aI., 1995). In addition, researchershave argued that a child's self-regulation is an important aspect of social adjustment (Bronson, 2000; Kopp, 1982, 1989, 1991; Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000). Selfregulation has been identified as occurring when a child "goes along with the caregiverexpectationsin the absenceof externalmonitors" (Kopp, 1989, p. 350). The link betweentemperamentand literacy skiDsis probably complex, and likely works through a child's social skiDs. For example, McClelland (2002) found that the effortful control temperamentdimension (characterized by behaviors relating to inhibitory control, attention, and perceptual sensitivity) was related to early learning-relatedsocial skills in 3- to S-yearolds, with the relation strengtheningover time. Taken together, the contribution of children's temperament and social skills to early literacy development is complex and most likely involves interacting and/or intervening relations. Although there are direct links betweencognitive developmentand literacy skiDs,and betweensocial skiDs and literacy skills, examining interacting and intervening relations as well as other factors suchas temperamentprovides for a more complex, multilevel, and interactive framework describing children's literacy development. m. Parenting and Early Utency Development Parenting comprises a constellation of factors such as parental style, warmth/sensitivity, control/discipline, cognitive stimulation, and the family learning environment that combine to shape academic growth through a variety of direct and indirect pathways (Collins et al., 2(XX);Morrison & Cooney, 2002).To better understand children's literacy development,it is necessaryto explore the effects theseparenting factors have on children's emerging skiDs.
Pathways to Early Uteracy
A. FAMILY LEARNING ENVIRONMENT The most obvious aspectof parenting to influenceearly literacy outcomes is the family learning environment. The family learning environment was originally defined in the literature by the frequency of paRnt-child book reading (Bus, van Ijzendoorn, & PeUegrini, 1995), but it has been extended to include measuressuch as the number of reading materials at home (e.g.,newspapersc, hild and adult magazinesand books), frequencyof library visits, parents' independentreading,duration of parent-child shared book reading, and frequency of nonliteracy related activities such as TV viewing (Griffin & Morrison, 1997). The family learning environment is predictive of children's early literacy skills in preschool and early elementaryschool. For example, researchby Morrison andcoUeaguesfound that the literacy environment(e.g.,numberof reading materials at home, frequencyof library visits, paRnts' independent reading and parent-child sharedbook reading,and frequencyof nonliteracy related activities) predicts children's reading and vocabulary skiUs,but not mathematicsskills, at age5 (Griffin & Morrison, 1997;Morrison & Cooney, 2002). In addition, Teale (1986) has documented an association between the family learning environment and children's literacy development; and Payne, Whitehurst, and AngeU (1994) found that the family learning environment explained 12-19% of the variancein children's languageskills. Many researchershavedocumentedthe relation betweenone component of the family learning environment, namely parent-child book reading, and later literacy skills (Bus, van Ijzendoorn, & Pellegrini, I99S; Haden, Reese, & Fivush, 1996;Havlik & Haden, 2002; Reznick, 1997;Whitehurst et al., 1994). During book reading, paRnts have the opportunity to engage in various behaviors that facilitate learning, such as labeling, open-ended questioning, and elaboration. Parentswho engagein such activities foster better literacy developmentin their children (Haden, Reese,& Fivush, 1996; Havlik & Haden, 2002;Whitehurst et aI., 1994).For example,in a study by Whitehurst et aI. (1994),Head Start children whoseparentsparticipated in a book-reading intervention performed better in tests of emergentliteracy skills. In a study of 3- to S-year-olds,Haden, Reese,and Fivush (1996) identified three distinct maternal styles of reading-Describers, Comprehenders,and Collaboraton-and thesestyleswere related differentially to children's later literacy skills at age 6 for unfamiliar books. "Describer mothers" emphasized descriptions of objects and characters in the story. "Comprehender mothers" embellished and expanded on indirectly specified information, linking the text to real world knowledge and experiences.'.Collaborator mothers" combined frequent higher-level comments relating to inferences, predictions, and print knowledge with
Mega/! M. McCkUmrd et aI.
some lower-level descriptive comments. Children with Comprehender mothers scored higher on a measureof story comprehensionas compared to children of mothers who were Deacribers or Collaborators. Children with Collaborator mothers scored higher on the WRA T, which assesses letter and word recognition and pronunciation. And children with Describer mothers scored lower on measures of receptive vocabulary, word recognition, and story comprehension.Thus, different maternal styles during mother-child book reading apparently are associatedwith distinct literacy outcomesin young children. B. COONl11VEmMULA nON Maternal cognitive stimulation is associateddirectly with children's early cognitive, academic, and language abilities (Bomstein, 1985; Bradley & CaldweU, 1984;Coates& Lewis, 1984;Elardo, Bradley, & Caldwell, 1975; Hesset aI., 1984;Kessenich& Morrison, 2002; Landry et aI., 1997;Olson, Bates, & Bayles, 1984;Siegel, 1981;Tamis-LeMonda & Bomstein, 1989). Cognitive stimulation refers to activities such as labeling, scaffolding, and elaboration, and has been measured using tools such as the HOME Inventory checklist (Caldwell &:.Bradley, 1984)and observationsof parentchild structured interactions. Using the HOME Inventory, which measures the general cognitive environment in the home using a standard checklist, Bradley and CaldweU (1984) found that Total HOME scoresat 6, 12,and 24 months correlated with IQ scoresat age 3 (rs=.50, .58, and .71; p < .05) and age 4Yl years = (rs .44, .53, and .57; p < .05). The association between the HOME Inventory and children's cognitive and languagecompetenciesduring the preschool years has been documented in numerous other studies. Furthermore, the HOME continues to predict developmental outcomes from first gradethrough age 10(Beeet aI., 1982;Bradley, CaldweU,& Rock, 1988;Elardo, Bradley, & Caldwell, 1975). Whereasthe HOME Inventory assessecsomponentsof the family learning environment other than direct parentalcognitive stimulation (e.g.,numberof books and educational toys at home), a new structured interaction observation measurewas usedin the context of the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Developmentin order to evaluatecognitive stimulation independentof theseother aspectsof the family learning environment. Using data from the NICHD study, Kessenichand Morrison (2002)found that this observation measure of cognitive stimulation, which was based on a structured play interaction between mother and child at age 2, significantly predicted cognitive and language outcomes at age 3. Thus, measuresof the home environment that assessbehaviors such as parental
PalhwaY$ 10 Early literacy
involvement and stimulation demonstratestrong relations to both cognitive and languageskills, evenat 2 and 3 yearsof age. In attempting to understandthe relation betweenparenting practicesand early literacy, researchershave focused almost exclusively on the family learning environment and cognitive stimulation as predictors of literacy outcomes. These are important influences, but children's academic outcomes are also affected by other parental factors that, on the surface, might not have such obvious links to literacy, such as parenting style. C. PARENTINGSTYLE The concept of parenting style was originally developed by Baumrind (1971) and comprised of three distinct types: authoritarian, authoritative, and permissiveparenting. Thesedimensionswere identified on the basisof varying degreesof parental warmth and control. Maccoby and Martin (1983) subsequentlyexpandedthis configuration by distinguishing between permissiveparenting that was indulgent versusneglectful. Most studies with Caucasian-Americansamplesand ethnically diverse samplesas a wholehave demonstrateda positive relation betweenauthoritative parentingand higher levelsof academicachievement(Dornbusch et aI., 1987;Glasgow et aI., 1997;Lamborn et aI., 1991;Steinberget al., 1994).In contrast, in studies of Asian, Asian-American, and Black populations in isolation better schoolperfonnancehasbeenassociatedpositively with more authoritarian parenting (Chao, 1994;Darling & Steinberg,1993;Dornbusch et al., 1987). Researchershave proposed ~veral hypothesesregarding the so~ of these ethnic differences. One view is that more authoritarian parenting practices may be adopted by socioeconomically disadvantaged Black families living in unsafe neighborhoods in order for parents to better ensure the safety of their children by insisting on strict obedience and adherenceto rules. With regard to Asian and Asian-American parenting, Chao (1994)pointed to the emphasison authoritarian-like principles suchas chiaoshunand guanin the Chineseculture. The conceptof chiaoshunrefers to "training" children in appropriate or expected behaviors, and the term guan means"to govern" as well as "to love." Thus, parental control and authority appearto besynonymouswith expressionsof loveand concern in Asian cultures (Chao, 1994). Furthermore, Darling and Steinberg (1993) hypothesized that differencesin parenting style may be linked to cultural variations in the goals parents have toward socializing their children. There is much reaearchto be done in order to fully understand the differencesin effectiveparenting stylesacrosscultures, as well as across various ages.
Mqml M. McClellmId el aI.
Little research has attempted to look at the effect of parenting style on early literacy prior to school entry. Such researchmight lead to interesting findings regarding the learning patterns that develop in early childhood as a result of various parenting styles and levels of control and responsivity. The impact of parenting style on literacy can also be understood by examining the two components-warmth and controi-separately. 1. Parental Warmth/Sensitivity/Responsivity Parentingstyleis, in part, definedby various levelsof warmth, sensitivity, and emotional responsivity, as measuredby positive, affectionate, responsive, and nonintrusive bebavion of mothers toward their children. Such behavion have emergedas salient influences on children's cognitive and languageoutcomes.Parenting behaviorshave beenreliably examinedusing structured measuressuch as the HOME Inventory checklist (Caldwell & Bradley, 1984)aswell asthrough observedinteractions bet~ parentsand children. Interaction patterns between mothers and children aged 12-48 months havebeenidentified assignificant predictors of concurrent cognitive and languageskills as well as subsequentacademicachievement(Estrada et aI., 1987; Hess et aI., 1984; Kessenich & Morrison, 2002; Murray & Hornbaker, 1997;Olson, Bates,& Kaskie, 1992).Coatesand Lewis (1984) found that a mother's responsivity and sensitivity to the distress of her 3-month-old infant accounted for more than 25% of the variance in the child's verbal IQ scoreat 6 yearsof age. In addition, Kessenichand Morrison (2002)determinedthat an observational measure of maternal warmth and sensitivity predicted equally significant amounts of variance in Bracken Basic Concept scores and Reynell DevelopmentalLanguagescoresat 3 yean of ageas compared to a measureof maternal cognitive stimulation. Both cognitive stimulation and warmth/sensitivity wereassessedusingqualitative ratingsof explicit maternal behaviors (I = Not at all characteristic4, = Highly characteristic) observed during a structured play interaction betweenmother and child. Cognitive stimulation was defined as behaviors such as describing, labeling, or asking questionsabout toys, objects,attributes of objects,or experiencess; ensitivity was characterizedin terms of positive emotional regard, lack of intrusive behavior, and awarenessof the child's affect, interests, or responseto stimulation. In general, researchsuggeststhat parenting qualities such as warmth, sensitivity, and responsivity during the first few years of life are related to children's later cognitive and languagedevelopment. In order to establish the mechaniSIDSthrough which maternal warmth and sensitivity influence children's cognitive and languageoutcomes,it is necessaryto investigatethe
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role of mediating factors. For example,waml, sensitiveparenting may give young children a senseofsecurlty, stability, and self-assurancewhich in turn enables them to comfortably explore their world-providing them with a "secure base" from which to interact and learn from their environment (Ainsworth et a/., 1978;Bowlby, 1988;Main & Solomon, 1986). 2. Parental Control and Discipline Parental control is the secondof two components incorporated within Baumrind's representationof parenting style. A large part of parenting has to do with the methods usedto manageand discipline a child. Setting and maintaining consistent rules and limits helps to provide a supportive, structured environment in which children can develop. For example, Morrison and Cooney (2002) demonstrated an indir~t relation between children's literacy skills and parental control/discipline by way of a child's learning-related social st.iUs (e.g., listening and following ~ons, cooperation, independence,self-regulation). Thus, a child's ability to listen and follow directions, mediated the relation between parental control/ discipline and a child's acquisition of literacy skills. It is posited that higher levels of consistent, authoritative parental control promote more cooperation, compliance, and independencein young children. These learningrelated social behaviors, in turn, enable children to acquire the important literacy skills they need to sua:eed in the classroom (McClelland, 2002; McClelland, Morrison & HoImes, 2000).
D.THE IMPACT OF PARENnNG ON EARLY Ln'ERACY SKJLLS: A roMPREHENSIVE MODEL Severalparenting factors have demonstratedsignificant direct or indirect associationswith children's literacy stills. Yet evidencesuggeststhat specific dimensions of parenting may be differentially related to various literacy skills. Morrison and Cooney (2002) used an a priori structural equation model to examine different aspects of parenting and their influence on children's literacy and social skills. Four aspectsof parenting were assessed: Parental Warmth and Responsiveness,the Strength of Parental Beliefs about Child Qualities, Parental Control, and the Quality of the Family Learning Environment. Parenting factors were significantly associatedwith children's academicand social skills at the beginning of kindergarten. For example, the Quality of the Family Learning Environment was related to children's vocabulary, generalknowledge, reading, and mathematicsskills; Parental Warmth and Responsivenesswas associated with children's vocabulary and general knowledge skills; and the Strength of Parental
Megan M. McClelland et at.
Beliefsabout Child Qualities wasrelated to children's learning-relatedsocial skills at the beginning of kindergarten. These results suggest that multiple pathways simultaneously influence children's literacy growth. For example,Parental Warmth and Responsivenesswasrelated to children's vocabulary and generalknowledgeskills, skills which are not directly taught in the classroomlike readingand mathematics, but which are indirectly taught by parents. In addition, the Quality of the Family Learning Environment, which assessecsharacteristicsof the home suchasnumber of books owned,and hours of TV watchedby the child, was related to all of the academicoutcomes.Thus, a global conceptualizationof parenting is useful for specifying how aspectsof parenting affect literacy skills differentiaUy, making it important to examine the dynamic and complex paths through which parenting impacts children's early literacy development. IV. Sociocultural Factors and Early Literacy Development. A. SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS Socioeconomicstatus (SES) has long been consideredas an important background variable when conducting research on human development. Traditional indicants of SES, including income, education level, and occupational status, have continually demonstrated associations with children's cognitive, language, and literacy development (Brooks-Gunn, Duncan, & Britto, 1999; Dodge, Petit, & Bates, 1994; Duncan, BrooksGunn, & Klebanov, 1994;Lempers,Clark-Lempers,& Simons, 1989;Smith & Dixon, 1995).For example, in a meta-analysisof over 100 studies, the averagecorrelation betweenSESindices and children's IQ scoreswas .40, and the averagecorrelation betweenSES and verbal achievementwas .31 (White, 1982). When the focus is shifted to literacy skills per se,SESremainsinftuential. In a study by Walker et al. (1994),SESindicessuchasmaternal education, family income, and occupational status were significantly associatedwith expressivelanguage at 36 months, and receptive language through third grade. Furthermore, a review of numerouslongitudinal studiesdetermined that income level predicted children's verbal and intelligence test scores from age2 to 5, evenafter controlling for other family characteristicssuch as parental education level and family structure (Brooks-Gunn, Duncan, & Britto, 1999). In addition, Duncan, Brooks-Gunn, and KJebanov (1994) found that income-to-needs ratio and maternal education level were significant predictors of children's IQ at age 5. Hart and Risley (1995) discovered that the size and richness of children's vocabularies at age 3
Pathways 10 Early Ulergcy
varied substantially as a function of their socioeconomicstatus. Finally, Stipet. and Ryan (1997) found that economically advantagedpreschoolers outperfonned economically disadvantagedkindergartnerson a number of
cognitive tests.
Although the association between SES and developmental outcomes is
well documented, the particular mechanism by which SES exerts its
influence is less clear. A distal factor such as socioeconomicstatus may
shapeliteracy outcomesby influencingmore proximal factors at home or to
the child, such as parental behaviors and children's learning-related social
skills. Yet, ~h rarely integratesproximalchild and parentingfactors and distal socioeconomicvariablesinto a comprehensiveconceptualmodel.
Such a model would better clarify the relations among child, parenting, and
socioeconomiccharacteristicsthat combine to influence children's literacy
Significant racial differences in academic skiDs such as vocabulary, generalknowledge,mathematics,and readingare evident among Black and White children at the elementaryand high schoollevels(Applebee, Langer, & Mullis, 1989; Bachman, Morrison, & Bryant, 2002; Jencks & Phillips, 1998;Phillips, Crouse,& Ralph, 1998;Stevenson,Chen, & Uttal, 1990). Even at kindergarten entry, Black children demonstrate poorer literacy skills than White children, and this discrepancyis either maintained or magnified over the school year (Cooney, 1999). Yet after controlling for variables such as parental education, chi1dren's IQ, and the family learning environment, the unique effect of race on kindergarten reading, mathematics,and generalknowledgescoresdisappears,which is consistent with research on school-aged children (Alexander & Entwisle, 1988; Stevenson,Chen, & Uttal, 1990).Thus, it is possible that socioeconomic factors and the family learning environment may mediate the effect of race on literacy outcomes. However, Bachman, Morrison, and Bryant (2002)found that the family learning environment significantly mediatedthe effectof parental education on children's literacy skiDsfor White families, but not for Black families. In Black families, the mediational relation broke down in terms of the weaker link betweenparental education level and the family learning environment. Whereas 79°/. of White parents with higher levels of education (more than 12 years) reported average or above average family learning environment scores, only 21% of Black parents with higher education levelsscoredaverageor above averageon the family learning environment questionnaire.
Megan M. McClelland et aI.
Research comparing Asian and American schoolchildren has also demonstrated differences in academic outcomes, with Asian and AsianAmerican children outperforming their White and Black peers(Stevenson, Chen, & Lee, 1993;Stevenson,Lee,& Stigler, 1986).Again, this discrepancy is thought to be due, in part, to differencesin parental behaviors and the home environment. For example, Asian and Asian-American parents exhibit greater control and involvement over their children's educational developmentthan White or Black parents (Chao, 1994;Dornbusch et aI., 1987;Joseet a/., 1995;Steinberg,Dornbusch, & Brown, 1992). In summary,significant differencesin children's literacy skills clearly ex-ist across various Racial and Ethnic Groups (Cooney, 1999;Jencks& Phillips, 1998).What is not yet clear is whether thesedifferencesare the result of variations in socioeconomicfactors, parenting behaviors,cultural beliefs,or a combination of these influences.Further researchis neededin order to decipher the myriad of possible mediational and moderational relations among this complex array of factors.
C. CHILD CARE The number of young children in child care settings increased dramatically at the end of the 20th century, with almost 75% of children involved in full or part-time care. In studies examining the effects of day care on children's outcomes,researchhas often focusedon the amount of time spent in child care. However, quality of child care, as indicated by caregiver-child ratios, group size,resources,environment, and caregiver training, is likely to be more revealing. Several studies have investigated the impact of early child care on later literacy outcomes. Although some researchershave found no significant associations between quantity or quality of child careand later cognitive and academicoutcomes(Chin-Quee & Scarr, 1994; Howes, 1988; Larsen, Hite, & Hart, 1983), others have found that involvement in child carecan havea compensatoryeffect on the outcomesof at-risk children from disadvantagedfamilies (Burchinal, Lee,& Ramey, 1989;Christian, Morrison, & Bryant, 1998;Desai,Chase-Lansdale, & Michael, 1989; Golden et al., 1978; McCartney, 1984; NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, 2000). For example, O'Brien Caughey, DiPietro, and Strobini (1994) found that children from impoverished environments who were involved in child care had higher mathematics and reading scores than impoverished children who were not involved in child care. After distinguishing between various types of child care (e.g., center-based,home-based,family care), O'Brien Caughey, DiPietro, and Strobini (1994)discoveredthat this compensatoryeffectwas specificto
Pathwaysto Early literacy
center-basedcarefor children from impoverishedhomes.However, O'Brien Caughey, DiPietro, and Strobini (1994) also discovered that children from middleTeacher Education had girls with better cognitive and receptivelanguageskills. In summary, both the amount and the quality of child care influence children's cognitive, literacy, and languageoutcomes.Amount of child care
MqOII M. McC/elI-' et aI.
is associatedwith positive influences on later cognitive, academic, and literacy outcomesfor children from disadvantagedhomes,yet this positive influence is not as clear for children from more economically advantaged homes.Quality of child care, as measuredby teachertraining, group size, resourcesand environment, hasalso demonstratedsignificant relations with children's literacy-related outcomes.
Early Literacy Deyelopment Thus far, our discussion of pathways to early literacy acquisition has centered on relations between child, family, and sociocultural influences and children's literacy skills. However, given the large variability in children's literacy skills prior to formal schooling, it is important to document what happens to children's skills once they enter kindergarten. The influence that schooling and classroom instruction have on children's literacy development is another level of influence that must be examinedwithin the ecologicalparadigm of early literacy development.For example, schooling may reduce, maintain, or increase the variability in children's literacy skills evident before children enter kindergarten. If schoolingand classroominstruction exertsa positive influenceon children's literacy development then it may be possible to decreasethe amount of variability in children's skills and ensure that more children succeed academically. Obviously, schoolingexertsa strong effecton children's literacy skills. For example, classroomsdiffer substantially in the amount and type of time spent on instructional activities, which directly affects children's early literacy development(Pianta et aI., 2002;Pressleyet al., 1998).In addition, the type of instruction combined with the individual characteristics of a child exertsa strong impact on the developmentof children's literacy skills (McDonald Connor, Morrison, & Katch, 2002). This variability acrossclassroomsis evidentin study by Freeseet aI. (2002) of 58 kindergarten and first-gradeclassroomswithin a singleschool district. Classrooms--particularly those in kindergarten-difIered substantially in the time spent on noninstructional activities. One kindergarten classroom was engagedin noninstructional activities for an average of 83minutes per day, whereas another kindergarten classroom spent an average of 167minutes in noninstructional activities. Differences in time spent on noninstructional activitiesweresmallerin first grade,although still apparent. In addition, substantial variability was found for time spent on Language Arts and mathematical instruction acrosskindergarten and first grade. For
Pathways to Early Literacy
example, one kindergarten teacherspent an averageof 20minutes per day teaching languagearts while another kindergarten teacherspentan average of 90 minutes per day on languagearts instruction. In the first grade, one teacherspentan averageof 57minutes per day teachinglanguagearts while another teacher spent an average of 134minutes teaching language arts (Freeseet al., 2002). These findings suggest that kindergarten and first grade students in the same school district were receiving quite different educational experiences.While some children were spending more time engaged in instructional activities, particularly language arts activities, other children were spending considerably more time in noninstructional activities such as transition time and behavior management. These results demonstrate that in addition to other important child, family, and sociocultural factors, children's developmental trajectories in literacy skills may differ based on the amount and type of instruction given in kindergarten and first grade.
VI. Dynamic RelationsBetweenChild, Family, and Sociocultural Factors,SchoolingInfluencesand Early Literacy SkiDs In general, research has primarily focused on separate links between child, family, and sociocultural factors and children's literacy acquisition (Kessenich & Morrison, 2002; Morrison et al., 2002). However, to describe and explain pathways in children's early literacy development, researchers must examine complex relations between child, family, and sociocultural factors and children's literacy skills. A growing body of evidence indicates that children's literacy acquisition is the result of dynamic direct, indirect, and interacting relations betweenthesevariables. Moreover, advancesin analytic tools such as structural equation modeling (SEM) and hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) allow researchers to better examine multiple factors influencing literacy skills and the complex relations among them. Thus, researchthat incorporatesa dynamic systems perspective with new analytic tools furthers the understanding of literacy development and the processesunderlying children's academic trajectories. A. A COMPLEX MODEL OF CHILD LITERACY ACQUISmON Bachman and Morrison (2002a) identified important child, family, and sociocultural factors in order to develop a complex model of child literacy acquisition using a sampleof 382kindergarten children (seeFigure I). They
Megan M. McClelland et oJ.
Fig. I. Model of child, family, and sociocultural factors related to child literacy outcomes at killdergartm. Direct effects of race, parental education, and family learlling ellllirolUnellt 011tire 10lIl' child outcomes are not inclllded ill tire figure for clarity of presentation. found that sevencore child, family, and sociocultural variables accounted for a large portion of the varianceacrossfour literacy outcomesof reading recognition, receptive vocabulary, general knowledge, and mathematics. These variables included three child factors (IQ, school entrance age, and learning-related social skills), one family factor (family learning environment), and three sociocultural factors (racefethnicity, amount of preschool experience and parents' education). Specifically, at the beginning of kindergarten, thesesevenvariables accounted for 64% of the variance in children's receptive vocabulary skills, 55% of the variance in general knowledgeskills, 34% of the variancein readingrecognition skills, and 49% of the variancein mathematicsskills. Using these seven variables, Bachman and Morrison (2002a) used SEM to test a model predicting children's literacy skills at the beginning of kindergarten (see Figure I). SEM is a family of statistical techniques that define and estimate general models of variables including charting cause and effect relations (Klem, 2000). When examining direct effects between predictors and outcomes, using SEM is ~nalogous to conducting a series of simultaneous multiple regressionsand allows researchers to directly estimate measurementerror and increase the power of the analysis compared with more basic regression techniques (Kline, 1998).
PathWYIto &riy Iiltraey
In addition, SEM allows for examination of indirect (mediator) and
interactive (moderator) relations among variables in the model.
Results of the Bachman and Morrison (20023) study revealed that the
sevenvariableshad both direct and indirect influenceson children's literacy
skills at kindergarten (see Figure 1). For example, direct relations were
found between parents' education, children's IQ, learning-related social
skills, entranceage,and the four literacy outcomesof receptivevocabulary,
generalknowledge,reading, and mathematics.Direct links werealso found
between race/ethnicity and receptive vocabulary and general knowledge;
between the family learning environment and aU literacy skills except
mathematics; and between the amount 9f preschool experience and
mathematics skills. All relations were positive with the exception of racel
ethoicity, where being African-American was related to lower receptive
vocabulary and generalknowledgescores.
In addition to direct effects,race/ethnicity and parents' education inftuen-
<:cdchild literacy skills indirectly through other variables (seeFigure 1).
For example,race/ethnicity operatedindirectly through the family learning
environment, child's IQ, and children's learning-related social skills to
influence children's literacy skills. In addition, parents' education operated
through children's IQ and the family learning environment to influence
literacy skills. Together, the results from this study demonstrate that the
pathways to child literacy skills are complex and involve multiple variables
(Bachman &; Morrison, 20023).
B. INTERAcnONS BETWEEN CHILD, FAMILY, AND SOCJOCULTURAL FACTORs, AND EARLY LrrERACY SDu.s Researchershave also found evidencefor complex interacting relations betweenchild, family, and sociocultural factors and children's early literacy skills. For example,McClelland, Morrison, and Bryant (2(KX})found that parents' education interacted with children's learning-related skills to increasechildren's vocabulary and generalknowledgeskills at kindergarten. In addition, a child factor, IQ, interacted with children's learning-related skills to inftuencereading skills at the faU of kindergarten. Theseinteractionswerefound to havean augmentingeffectin which high learning-relatedskills were associatedwith stronger academicperfonnance when combined with high levels of IQ and parents' education. Further analysis of the interactions between parents' education, learning-related skills, and literacy outcomes suggestedthat high learning-related skills helped children in academic areas such as vocabulary and general knowledge, which are not directly focused on in the school environment,
Megan M. McClelland et al.
but are learned in the home environment and are affected by parents' education. Less fino interpretations could be made about the interaction between IQ and learning-related skins and reading becausethere was little actual differencein the reading scoresof children with high or low learning-related skills and a high or low IQ. In addition, children's ageequivalentsbetween the groups for reading scores were similar. Having high learning-related skills and a high IQ may help children listen and sit still when learning about reading more than just having a high IQ. However, the interaction also showed that children with high learning-related skills and a low IQ did similarly to children with low learning-related skills, and a high IQ. Having a high IQ may help children even if they have low learning-related social skills, but if children had a lower IQ, having strong learning-related skills helped them perform better on reading in kindergarten. This study found that high learning-related skills and parents' education were associatedwith stronger vocabulary and general knowledge skills in kindergarten. The interaction between learning-related social skills and children's IQ on reading skills in kindergarten indicated that having either a high IQ or strong learning-related social skills helped children perform better on reading. Overall, results from this study add to our understanding of variables influencing literacy skills and help to characterize the relations between child and family factors and early literacy acquisition.
C. INTERVENING RELAll0NS BETWEENCHILD, FAMILY, AND SOCIOCULTURALFACTORSAND EARLY UTERACY SKILLS Although some researchhas documented interactions, or moderational relations, among child, family, and sociocultural variables, other studies have demonstrated mediational, or intervening, relations between such variables and children's early literacy-related skills. Raviv, Kessenich,and Morrison (2002) found that the influence of socioeconomic factors such as income-to-needsratio and maternal education on children's expressive and receptive language skills at 3 years of age was partially mediated by parenting behaviors such as cognitive stimulation and sensitivity. Furthermore, cognitive skills at age 3 partly mediated the relation between parental behaviors(i.e., cognitive stimulation and sensitivity) and 3-year-old expressiveand receptive language skills. This study provides additional evidence of the complex and indirect relations linking parenting, sociocultural factors and children's early literacy development.
Pathwaysto Early Uteracy
In addition to studying the complex factors contributing to literacy development, researehhas found evidencefor dynamic relations between child and family factors and children's social skills. As discussedpreviously,
children's learning-relatedsocial skills are significant predictorsof children's academic and literacy outcomes (McClelland, Morrison &; Holmes, 2~).
For example,McCleUand(2002)examinedthe emergenceof children's early
learning-related social skills in preschool and found that the relation betweenaspectsof parenting, child temperament,and child social skills is
complex and changesover time. In the study, the effortful control dimension
of temperament, which compri~ of behaviors relating to inhibitory
control, attention, and perceptual sensitivity, moderated, or interacted with, parental warmth to influence children's ]earning-relatedskiDs.When parental warmth was high, a child's temperamentwas not related to his or her learning-related skiDs, but when parental warmth was low, effortful control becamean important indicator of learning-relatedskills at 3-4 years of age. The longitudinal nature of the study highlighted how the relation between child temperament, parenting, and children's learning-related social skills changedwith age.The moderating interaction betweenchild temperament and parenting found when children were 3-4 years old changed to a
mediated or indirect effect when children and their families were studied again one year later, when children were4-5 yearsof age.A child's effortful control significantly mediated the relation between the parental warmth and learning-related skills at 4-5 years of age after controlling for background characteristicssuch as child age,patents' education, preschool experience, and ethnicity. Specifically, at ages 4 and 5, higher levels of parental warmth wererelatedto higher levelsof effortful control in children, which were then related to higher learning-related skills in children
(McClelland, 2002).
These results demonstrate how characteristics of children and
parenting are part of dynamic and complex pathways of development.
Although a moderational interaction between child temperament and parental warmth on children's ]earning-related skills was found when
children were 3-4 years old, this relation changed to be mediational . when children and their families were studied one year later. Taken together, the complex relations between child and family factors suggest
that the pathways to children's early social and literacy development are
dynamic and change over time.
Megan M. McCkllond et aI.
E. CHILD-SCHOOLING INTERACTIONS IN CHILDIREN'S EARLY Ln-ERACY GROwrn In addition to links betweenchild, family, and sociocultural factors and literacy skills, different instructional practices benefit children in differing ways dependingon their entering languageand reading skills. For example, in a study of growth in word-decoding in first grade, McDonald Connor, Morrison, and Katch (2002) examined the impact of three instructional teacher-managedversuschild-managed,explicit versusimplicit, and changesin instruction over the school year. Different instructional variables were most effective for children with specific combinations of skills upon entering first grade. Specifically, for children with low vocabulary and low word-decoding skills, the more teacher-managed explicit instruction they received in first grade, the higher their spring scores. Conversely, the more child-managed explicit instruction they received, the worse they performed. Finally, teachers who started with low amounts of child-managedimplicit instruction in the fall but increased steadily in winter and spring produced higher performance in their low vocabulary, low word-decoding children. A contrasting pattern emergedfor children who started first grade with high vocabulary and high word-decoding skills. For these children. increasing amounts of teacher-managed explicit instruction had no discernible effect, but increasing amounts of child-managed implicit instruction yielded higher spring first grade scores.Finally, steadyamounts of child-managed implicit instruction produced greater spring worddecoding scores. Thus, children's growth in word-decoding skills in first grade apparently dependson the match betweenthe child's level of beginning skill and the type of instruction presented by their teacher. One interpretation is that the teacher'schange in instruction is in responseto the child's progress, but the reversemay also be true and children are respondingto changesin teacher's instruction. Regardlessof the direction of the association, this finding is consistentwith the view that children's pathways to early literacy acquisition may depend on a "goodness-of-fit" match of children's characteristics with the type and amount of instruction provided by the teacher (Foorman et al., 1998; Juel & Minden-Cupp, 2000). Although the concept of goodness-of-fit has historically been used to describe the fit between a child's temperament or characteristics and a parent's characteristics(e.g., Rothbart & Bates, 1998),it is also relevant in describing children's literacy skills trajectories. For example, children who started first grade with low vocabulary and word-decoding skills benefited the most over the year when paired with teachers who used
Pathway" 10 EGrly Utnacy
more teacher-managedexplicit instruction. In contrast, children who came to first gradewith strong vocabulary and word-decodingskills showedmore growth in word-decoding when allowed more child-managed implicit instruction. Thus, classroom instruction that can better match the needs of children and that takes into account children's entering vocabulary and word-decoding skiD level can optimize children's learning over the course of the year.
Advances in statistics have allowed researchersto increasingly rely on
analytic strategies that combine variable-based and person-oriented
proceduresto better examine the dynamic relations betweenchild, family, and sociocultural factors and how they influence early literacy skills. Variable-based procedures are correlational methods that attribute significant associationsbetween variables to a general linear model for all individuals in a sample (Bachman & Morrison, 2002b; Magnusson & Bergman, 1988). Examples of variable-based analytic procedures are regressionanalyses,discriminant analysis,SEM, and growth curve analyses
using hierarchical linear modeling. A limit of variable-based procedures is that significant relations may be due to extremeindividual scoresrather than reflecting a generalpattern for the sampleas a whole. Consequently, many researchersadvocate the use of person-oriented approaches in addition to variable-based procedures (e.g., Bachman & Morrison, 2002b; Magnusson & Bergman. 1988; Roesner, Eccles,& Sameroff, 1998).Person-orientedproceduresfocus on locating meaningful subgroups of individuals and examining relations among individuals. Examples of person-oriented procedures include clustering methods, latent class analysis, and the homogeneousgrouping
strategy. A particularly useful strategy is to combine variable-basedprocedures with person-oriented methods. For example, Morrison et al. (2002) used the homogeneous grouping strategy, a person-oriented procedure, and HLM, a variable-based method, to examine the unique and interactive
influencesof child and family variableson children's literacy developmenL The homogeneous grouping strategy is a person-oriented procedure . that creates subgroups or clusters of individuals prior to data analysis based on theoretically driven questions. In contrast, HLM is a variablebased method that incorporates multiple levels of analysis, modeling individual growth curves at the first level, and variations in individual's growth curves using other predictor variables at the second level
Megan M. McClel1alld et aI.
(Bryk & Raudenbush, 1992; Weinfurt, 2000). When combining the homogeneous grouping strategy with HLM, individuals are divided into similar subgroups on the basis of theoretically driven questions and the growth curvesof thosesubgroupson outcomevariablesare then charted (Morrison et al., 2002). In Morrison et al.'s (2002) study, the influences of children's IQ and family learning environment scoreswereexaminedto determinetheir effect on children's early literacy skills from kindergarten through the end of second grade. Using the homogeneous grouping strategy, two similar groups of children with higher and lower IQ scoreswere createdand then divided again on the basisof high versuslow family learning environment scores.This strategy was then combined with growth curve analysisusing HLM to examine the independent and combined influence of children's IQ and family learning environment on the growth of reading recognition, mathematics, receptive vocabulary, and general knowledge skills between kindergarten and secondgrade. Morrison et al. (2002)found that children's literacy skills followed specific developmentalpathways. For example, although children's IQ and family learning environment exerted strong influenceson child literacy skills, the pattern of influencewasnot the same.Therewas an additive effectof child's IQ and family learning environment on children's vocabulary and reading, but an interactive effect between children's IQ and family learning environment on children's general knowledge skills at kindergarten. [n this interaction, the effect of a higher family learning environment on children's generalknowledgeskills wasstronger for higher IQ children than for lower IQ children at kindergarten. In addition, different relations were found for the influence of children's IQ and family learning environment on children's literacy growth over the first 3 years of schooling. For general knowledge, only a child's family learning environment affected growth rates, with children in higher family learning environments growing more rapidly in general knowledge than children in lower family learning environments. [n contrast, a distinct pattern emergedfor children's growth in vocabulary where only children's IQ affected growth rates. Lower [Q children grew faster in receptive vocabulary betweenkindergarten and secondgrade compared with higher IQ children, whereasthe influenceof the family learning environment was maintained over time but did not predict growth rates. As a result, vocabulary in the higher and lower IQ children had convergedslightly by the end of secondgrade. A separatepattern of resultsalsoemergedfor growth in children's reading skills. Both [Q and family learning environment affected growth rates: children with higher IQs grew more in reading than children with lower IQs,
Pathways to Early Literacy
and children from higher family learning environments experiencedmore growth in reading than children from lower family learning environments. Finally, for mathematics, only IQ affected growth rates during the first 3 years of school, where children with higher IQs grew at a faster rate in mathematicsthan children with lower IQs. The resultsof the Morrison et a/.'s (2002) study point to the specificand complex influence of child and family factors on the growth of children's early literacy skills. Both children's IQ and the family learning environment strongly influencedchildren's literacy skills, but the pattern of the influence on children's growth differed acrossthe literacy skills. For reading, both IQ and family learning environment influenced growth, whereas for general knowledge, growth rates were due mostly to the family learning environment. In addition, for mathematics, only child IQ affected growth rates betweenkindergarten and secondgrade. These findings point to the high degree of specificity present in the developmental trajectories of children's early literacy skills, which were influenced by children's IQ and the family learning environment. This pattern of resultswould not have beenuncoveredif the data wereanalyzed from just a person-orientedprocedure such as the homogeneousgrouping strategy, or solely from a variable-based method such as growth curve analyses.
VII. Conclusion Children's early literacy development is not a static or one-dimensional processbut instead involves complex relations betweenmultiple levels of influence.At one level, child, family, sociocultural factors influenceliteracy skills directly as well as more complex ways involving interacting and intervening variables. At another level, aspectsof instructional influences such as the amount and type of instruction influence literacy development. Specifically,pathways to early literacy acquisition differ basedon a child's characteristicssuch as IQ, language,social skills, and temperament;family characteristicssuch as the quality of the family learning environment and parenting; sociocultural factors such as parents' education and ethnicity; and instructional dimensions such as teacher-managed versus childmanaged, explicit versus implicit, and changes in instruction over the school year. Furthermore, the optimal literacy developmentmay involve a match betweenchild, family, and sociocultural characteristics,and the type of instruction provided by the teacher. Researchmust utilize advancesin analytic techniquesthat reflectvariablebased approaches such as SEM and growth curve analyses (HLM), as
Megan M. McCk//ond et aI.
well as person-orientedproceduressuch as the homogeneougsrouping strategy.Moreover,the analytictechniquesthat showthe most promise are those that combinevariable-basedand person-orientedprocedures such as the homogeneousgrouping strategy combined with HLM. Together,thesemethodologicaland analytic techniquesare important tools that can help disentanglethe multiple layersof influencein literacy development.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT The researchpresentedin this chapter was completed with funding from grants NICHD ROI-HD27176 and NSF BC8-.0111754to Frederick J. Morrison.
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