During the last 3 decades, increased attention has been focused upon the effects of emergent literacy in an early childhood education environment and children's later knowledge (Roberts, Jurgens, & Burchinal, 2005). It was once believed that children learned to read and write only when they entered elementary school and received specific instruction. However, most research now indicates that a preschool environment is critical in the development of a variety of cognitive and linguistic skills and that it is an important factor in early literacy development (Levy, Gong, Hessels, Evans, & Jared, 2006; Rashia, Morris, & Sevick, 2005; Weigel, Martin, & Bennett, 2006). Research has shown that home experiences need to be developmentally appropriate and should emphasize the natural unfolding of skills through the enjoyment of books, positive interactions between young children and adults, and literacy-rich activities (Roberts et al., 2005). Probably no area of education has seen as much controversy over teaching methodology as beginning reading instruction (Teale, 1995). Two phases of reading development are typically discussed in the literature. The first is the preschool period, which signifies the time before formal instruction begins. The preschool phase of reading is typically associated with home, childcare or preschool settings, and with adults who are parents or child-care providers (Teale, 1995). The second, the beginning reading phase, commences with formal instruction in reading. Much of this instruction has focused upon children no younger than age 6, which our society has generally selected for reading instruction to begin (Justice & Kaderavek, 2004; Neuman & Dickinson, 2003; Teale, 1995). Emergent literacy is the term used to describe these early childhood reading experiences. Emergent implies something that is noticeably evolving and suitable, not a specific point or period in time, and literacy stresses the interrelatedness of the language arts (Slegers, 1996). Emergent literacy is based upon the concept that children attain literacy skills not only as a result of direct instruction but also as a product of a stimulating and reactive environment where children are exposed to print, observe the operations of print, and are motivated and encouraged to connect with print (Britto & Brooks-Gunn, 2001). The 1994 International Encyclopedia of Education defines emergent literacy as "referring to the reading and writing behavior that children exhibit before they learn to read and write conventionally" (as cited in Slegers, 1996, p. 4). To understand the significance of home literacy in the development of children's literacy this paper will discuss the extent to which parent involvement and specific literacy practices are related to reading achievement in preschool through third grade. In addition, it will also explore current literacy approaches that are used to enhance emergent literacy skills. The 20th century marked the beginning of the age of modern research in reading education. Psychologist and educators were primarily engaged in applying "scientific" method to the study of reading and learning to read. Researchers have used a variety of tools and techniques to gather data and draw conclusions. Our understanding of how readers read, how children learn to read, and how reading can best be taught has increased greatly. Thus, researchers in classrooms, home, and laboratory settings have found that early childhood is a key time for developing both nature to read and the skills necessary for reading (McCardle & Chabra, 2004; Teale, 1995). Emergent literacy represents a shift in thinking about young children's reading. It stresses the relationship between the preschool and beginning reading phases, among concerns and issues of early-childhood educators and those of reading teachers, and between the home and school environment (Teale, 1995). Marie Clay (1977) first used the term...
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