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Citation:Bennett, K. K., Weigel, D. J., & Martin, S. S. (2002). Children's acquisition of early literacy skills: Examining family contributions. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 17(3), 295-317.

This study used structural equation modeling to explore relationships between aspects of the family environment and preschool childrenÕs language and literacy skills. Three theoretical models, or explanations for, literacy and language acquisition among preschool children were investigated: Òthe Family as Educator, Resilient Family, and Parent-School Partnership modelsÓ (p. 300). These models were originally hypothesized by other researchers in an earlier study (Snow, Barnes, Chandler, Goodman, & Hemphill, 1991). The ÒFamily as EducatorÓ model focuses on family roles in supporting childrenÕs learning, such as providing learning resources and reading with their children. The ÒResilient FamilyÓ model focuses on the familyÕs roles in sheltering children from external stresses. The ÒParent-School PartnershipÓ model focuses on familiesÕ interactions with school staffs and at-school support activities. The study found that only the Family as Educator model was significantly related to child language and literacy outcomes. The study also found that two components of this model Ñ literacy-related activities and parentsÕ developmentally appropriate beliefs about reading with their children Ñ were the most important components of the model. The study involved 143 families and their preschool-age children; participants were recruited through child care centers that were randomly selected from a list of licensed facilities in a single county. Most parents (88.1%) were Caucasian, native English-speakers, educated through high school or beyond, employed, and married or living with partners. The authors used a variety of parental report measures to assess family characteristics, beliefs, and practices. Child outcomes were assessed using the ChildÕs Emergent Literacy Task (CELT) and subscales of the Preschool Language Scale (PLS-3). The studyÕs limitations include the sample size, sampling method, and reliance on parentsÕ self-report for data regarding home environment variables. The authors also note that the study is based on cross-sectional data and that longitudinal studies are needed to confirm its findings.

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