Conference proceedings article

Teaching and learning in reading acquisition : a study of early readers learning environment, at home and in school


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Subtitle: a study of early reader's learning environment, at home and in school

Author list: Ivarsson, Lena

Publication year: 2008


This study focuses early readers, e.g. children who have learnt to read before they start school, and their learning at home and in school. As social constructivist theories on learning and reading acquisition are applied, the concepts of interaction, zone of proximal development, actual and potential level of development, Vygotsky (1978), emerge as key concepts. The main purpose with this study is to shed light on early readers, with regard to positive reading acquisition, and the importance of a favourable learning environment.

This presentation draws on data from a three year longitudinal study. Participants are thirteen early readers, their peers, teachers and parents. Data consist of standardized reading tests, interviews with parents and teachers, classroom observations and informal talks with early readers. Both quantitative and qualitative data will be presented.

Results from standardized reading tests show, that early readers are well developed readers already at the school start, and that they continue to develop their reading during the first years in school, but not in the same pace as before school start. In relation to their peers, the gap is still wide compared with the less developed, but almost closed compared with the most developed non early readers, at the end of school year three.

In a social constructivist (Vygostsky, 1978) perspective, together with a literacy (Gee, 1996; Lankshear & Knobel, 2006) perspective, early readers seem to have a favourable learning environment in their homes. In accordance with Liberg & Björk (2001) children should be given the possibility to read in social practices, with a starting point in their own understanding, interest and motivation. Reading and writing can not be learnt separately from each other and the world around, but in meaningful contexts, where the children are given opportunities to explore print and be a part of the reading society, on their own and together with others. In this study, early readers’ interest in reading and writing activities is the starting point for different activities in the homes. Reading acquisition can be described as taking part in the zone of proximal development, as parents and older siblings work as good reading models, and give support to the early readers. Interactions between early readers and parents, e.g. discussions about print and happenings in the world around, will develop early readers’ print awareness, knowledge which will serve as good help in reading acquisition. The early readers’ home environment may be described as a learning environment. The school environment, differs from the home environment, as there are steering documents, learning materials, class-mates and teachers views of learning, among other things, that will influence what to be learnt and how. The possibility to start in each child’s own interest and motivation is a difficult task, as well as support everybody on their level. The teachers in this study work rather traditionally with letters and sounds, often following a special reading material and a working schedule. All children are supposed to go through the same content, irrespective of their prior knowledge, which means that early readers may have to work with things they already master. The school environment in this study may be described as a teaching, and learning environment.


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