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Title:Parental influences on Chinese literacy development: A comparison of preschoolers in Beijing, Hong Kong and Singapore
Author:Li, H., & Rao, N.
Resource Type:Journal Article
International Journal of Behavioral Development, 24(1)

pp. 82-90
Education Level:Elementary, Early Childhood/Pre-K
Literature type:Research and Evaluation

The purpose of this study is to understand the differences in Chinese childrenÕs literacy development in Beijing, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Results showed that there were significant age and societal differences between the three societies on the total Preschool and Primary Chinese Literacy Scale (PCLS) score and also on the sub scales for Character Identification, Visual and Auditory Discrimination, and Word Recognition. In all three societies, older children outperformed younger children on these sub scales. Despite the socio-cultural variations, which contributed to societal differences, home literacy education significantly contributed to the childÕs literacy. The researchers used BronfenbrennerÕs ecological systems theory to outline socio-cultural distinctions between the three societies. They sampled 480 children ranging from 2-6 years in the three cities and one of their parents (usually the mother). Trained teachers administered the PPCLS to the children and each childÕs parent completed the Home Literacy Environment Index (HLEI) at home. This study represents an attempt to examine the influence of environmental factors on childrenÕs Chinese literacy and can contribute to theory building as well as have practical implications for contemporary Chinese society. For Western audiences it confirms what several decades of Western research has found. There are characteristics common to children who become literate at an early age. Some of the common characteristics are more interactions with adults which involve listening, reading, writing and independent explorations of print (Taylor & Dorsey-Gaines, 1988), parents who enjoy and engage in reading at home (Lee, 1993, Morrow, 1983), visits to libraries and book stores, limits on TV viewing (Morrow, 1997), well organized homes where interactions between adults and children are conducive to literacy interest and growth (Holdaway, 1979) and print rich environments. Although this study focused on three Asian societies, the sample included only middle class parents and their children. Further research is needed with larger and more representative samples to corroborate these findings.

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