An article published in the Early Childhood Education Journal shows that maternal reading level predicts both a child’s receptive vocabulary and reading proficiency prior to schooling, after maternal education is taken into account. The findings also controlled for ethnicity, number of children in the family, and marital and employment status.
The authors used a sample of 155 children (aged 3-5 years) and their mothers (aged 20-44 years) of low-income and low-educational backgrounds from Western Canada. Children and mothers were tested individually for their reading proficiency using standardized tests, and children’s receptive vocabulary proficiency was also tested. The mothers were also interviewed one-to-one for demographic information. All the families spoke English first and foremost, although some were bilingual. The findings were:
- Both mothers’ measured reading levels and their reported educational levels were significant predictors of children’s reading proficiency, each over and above the other.
- However, in the case of children’s receptive vocabulary proficiency, they found that mothers’ reading levels were a significant predictor, but that mothers’ educational level was not.
In light of this, the authors recommend that early childhood educators may consider implementing programs to support mothers in improving their reading, in order to raise their children’s language and literacy levels.
Source : Phillips, L. M., Norris, S. P., Hayward, D. V., & Lovell, M. A. (2017). Unique Contributions of Maternal Reading Proficiency to Predicting Children’s Preschool Receptive Vocabulary and Reading Proficiency. Early Childhood Education Journal, 45(1), 111–119.