Sharing the Responsibility for Children's Literacy Development in First Grade: Child - Parent - Teacher Partnerships

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Virginia Tech

The purpose of this study was to describe what happens when parents and children are invited to participate in a child-parent-teacher partnership which mutually supports the child's literacy development during transition into first grade. Questions which helped focus the study were: How do child-parent-teacher partnerships develop? How are participant's understandings and expectations about literacy affected and what is their influence on literacy development? What kind of changes related to involvement with literacy occur during the transition period? What are the conditions under which partnerships were promoted or impeded? Constructivist theory and ecological theory of human development provided the theoretical foundation for the study.

Families from the researcher's classroom were invited to participate in child-parent-teacher partnerships. Eight families participated in the study. A case study design was used to describe the partnership process. Data collection consisted of three family surveys, child and parent journals, researcher folios, children's work samples, school records, written and verbal correspondences, unstructured interviews, and audio taped at home child-parent work sessions. Data analysis followed grounded theory methodology.

Analysis revealed a uniqueness to each family and each child-parent-teacher relationship. Child-parent-teacher partnerships developed with seven of the eight participatory families. One surprising partnership developed without a positive parent-teacher relationship. The eighth intended partnership failed to emerge. Findings indicate the eight characteristics of partnership development are: interest and willingness to participate; shared purpose; reciprocal flexibility; ability and willingness to negotiate and compromise; unconditional commitment; mutual respect; effective communication; and availability of curriculum materials. Three benefits of child-parent-teacher partnerships are: enhanced literacy development; enriched parental understanding, expectation and involvement; and more informed child-parent-teacher communication.

Child-Parent-Teacher Partnership, Literacy Development, First Grade, Parent-Teacher Relationship, Primary Language Arts