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Parental literacy behavior and engagement in homes of dual-language learners: A mixed methods study

Sandra Ixa Plata-Potter, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Latino preschoolers' vulnerability to deficiencies in school readiness skills (e.g., alphabet knowledge, letter sounds, print awareness) is well-documented. The purpose of this three-phase, explanatory sequential mixed methods study was to examine parental participation in emergent literacy activities, using both quantitative and qualitative measures, and to determine how parental participation associated with child outcomes for Latino dual-language learners during preschool. Phase I of the study was quantitative in nature, and was part of a larger literacy intervention program, the Rural Language and Literacy Connections (Rural LLC) study. The quantitative hypotheses addressed the association between parental involvement and child emergent literacy outcomes for Latino dual-language learners. Quantitative analyses showed that attendance in Family Literacy Events (FLE) did not significantly relate to the Family Involvement Questionnaire-Home Base (FIQ-HB) in the home or child outcomes. FIQ-HB was positively and significantly related to child alphabet knowledge, but was not related to other outcomes and negatively related to child Print and Word Knowledge and Spanish Vocabulary. In Phase II, the qualitative case study explored the perspectives of parents of Latino dual-language learners following participation in a preschool emergent literacy program, to determine history, roles, and literacy-related activities. In addition to the interviews, parents shared literacy portfolios created by the child and parents. Key themes were as follows: Parent's Childhood Literacy Experiences, Parent's Role, Home Literacy Activities, Family Literacy Events, and Spanish Language Instruction in the Home. In Phase III, qualitative results were examined to explain the quantitative results; these results suggest that families who attended the FLEs were not typical of all families, that the families reported they did benefit from the FLEs, and that families were highly invested in supporting children's language and literacy but not in ways that the FIQ-HB was measuring. The positive findings for Alphabet Knowledge, but negative findings for relations between FIQ-HB and Print and Word Awareness and Spanish Vocabulary, suggest that families who increase their literacy activities, as measured by the FIQ-HB, may be improving some, but diminishing other behaviors that support literacy and retention of Spanish. These mixed method results have implications for how to support Hispanic families' language and literacy in the context of intervention programs.

Subject Area

Bilingual education|Early childhood education|Hispanic American studies

Recommended Citation

Plata-Potter, Sandra Ixa, "Parental literacy behavior and engagement in homes of dual-language learners: A mixed methods study" (2012). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3522084.