Chinese children’s home-kindergarten literacy experiences in Aotearoa New Zealand
Paper in a Symposium (Symp)
2:50 PM, Tuesday 29 Aug 2017 (40 minutes)
Afternoon Refreshments 03:30 PM to 03:50 PM (20 minutes)
Convention Center - 2103
Children’s early literacy development has been studied extensively in the past three decades. Kress (1997) stressed the meaning of literacy as the actions of children and adults in communications in social cultural systems. In a similar vein, Clay (1998) stressed the importance of young children learning how to communicate with family members, peers, and others in different settings. From these perspectives, children’s communication with others in various settings and cultural communities is valued in early literacy development. Researchers have found that various contexts (i.e., cultures and settings) provide different opportunities for children’s literacy learning, which may lead to continuities and discontinuities in their engagement in literacy activities across settings (Barbarin, Downer, Odom, & Head, 2010; Schick, 2014). Currently, there is a dearth of research about Chinese children’s literacy experiences at home and kindergarten settings in specific contexts, such as Aotearoa New Zealand. Accordingly, this paper explores Chinese children’s experiences in early literacy activities at home and in kindergarten in Aotearoa New Zealand. Specifically, we explore how children’s home literacy experiences mediated their language and behaviours in activities in kindergarten, and vice versa, and other influential factors of mediating behaviors. This research is based on two theoretical perspectives on children’s early literacy learning: emergent, which considers children’s learning as a dynamic and on-going process beginning from birth; and sociocultural, which values the influence of social and cultural practices on literacy learning. Third-generation activity theory (Engeström, 2014), aligned with activity systems (Engeström, 1987), was applied as the framework in this study. The two dimensions in third-generation activity theory: up and outward; and down and inward, helped the researchers identify the similar and different activities children engaged in and the potential influence children’s previous experiences on their participation in any literacy activity later in and across home-kindergarten settings. This presentation will share literacy experiences from two 4- to 5-year-old Chinese children living in Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. Data sources were collected from these two children’s narrative tasks, Preschool Word and Print Awareness (PWPA) assessment, portfolios and artefacts, and interviews with their teachers and parents over 3 months. Preliminary findings highlight that children engaged themselves in literacy activities such as daily conversation and reading with parents at home, and singing, book reading, early drawing and writing, artwork and role play with teachers and peers in kindergarten. Furthermore, language and behaviour were mediated by previous literacy experiences in child-initiated activities. Parents, teachers, peers and instruments that children used in activities also contributed to the mediation of learning.