Link to full text: https://www-tandfonline-com.proxy.library.upenn.edu/doi/full/10.1080/10409289.2023.2166317
Access: Institutional Access
core topic(s)Early Literacy
Population CharacteristicsInternational , Toddler/Preschool
Exposures, Outcomes, OtherLanguage and Literacy Development , Parent Behaviors and Skills , Parent-Child Relationships/Interactions , Play , Positive Parenting , School Readiness and Educational Outcomes
objectivesTo assess whether preschool enrollment strengthened the associations between paternal, maternal, and allocaregivers’ (e.g. grandparents, aunts, uncles) engagement in literacy-type and social activities and children’s literacy and social skills.
outcomes evaluatedCaregiver engagement in literacy/social activities and children's literacy/social skills
setting14 African countries: Algeria, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Chad, Madagascar, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, Swaziland, Togo, Tunisia, and Zimbabwe.
methodsMaternal reports from the UNICEF Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys were determined whether preschool enrollment strengthened the associations between paternal, maternal, and allocaregivers’ (e.g. grandparents, aunts, uncles) engagement in literacy-type and social activities and children’s literacy and social skills. The sample consisted of 47,832 mother-father pairs, other household members, and preschool-aged children in cultural communities in 14 African countries.
sample sizen=47,832 (mother-father pairs, household members, and preschool-aged children)
- Measure of Caregiver Literacy and Social Engagement: items from the Questionnaire for Children Under Five, including asking whether or not caregivers: “read books to or looked at picture books with child,” “told stories to child,” “named, counted, or drew things to or with child”, “played with child,” “took child outside,” and “sang songs with child” during the past 3 days.
- Measure of Childhood Outcomes: questions for parents to report from the Early Childhood Questionnaire, including: if the “child identifies at least ten letters of the alphabet,” “child reads at least four, simple, popular words,” “child knows the names and symbols of all numbers 1–10,” “child follows simple directions,” “child is able to do things independently,” and “child gets along well with other children.”
- Measure of Covariates: questions about socioeconomic status, residential patterns, family structural arrangements, and the availability of educational materials and parenting practices and childhood outcomes.
resultsHousehold resources, educational attainment, and educational materials were consistent predictors of children’s literacy and social skills. Children whose mothers, fathers, and allocaregivers read to them and who were in preschool performed better on the literacy skills assessments than those whose caregivers did not read to them and did not attend preschool. Reading was a better predictor of children’s literacy skills than storytelling or naming/counting objects. Preschool enrollment appears to be a better predictor of children’s literacy and social skills than caregiver engagement.
conclusionsExpanding literacy materials, encouraging father involvement, and sustaining collaborations between parents and allocaregivers with preschool programs may help to cultivate children's social and literacy skills.
limitationsThe UNICEF-MICS relied on reports from mothers only and on a limited number of single item measures from families who were enrolled in a wide range of preschool programs. Single informants introduce issues of reporting bias and method variance. Mothers could have underestimated paternal and allocargiver engagement and overestimated children’s cognitive and social skills which could have contributed to the low degree of or lack of associations between caregiver and child outcome measures. Standardized assessments with multiple indicators would have likely provided more complete information on children’s early literacy and social skills and perhaps improved the degree of associations between maternal, paternal, and allocaregiver engagement and childhood outcomes. The wide range of early childhood programs children attended could have also differentially affected the acquisition of literacy and social skills. Our attempt to link adult engagement to children’s literacy and social skills are correlational and no causal inference can be made about relations between variables. With few exceptions, the effect sizes are small and so are the variances accounted for by the interactions. Accordingly, caution should be exercised in interpreting these findings.