Chapter 4: Understanding and Valuing the Role of the Family and Home Environment

“Every child needs one adult that is crazy about them.”

– Urie Brofenbrenner

Opening Vignette: A Tale of Two Teachers

Head Start teachers  Jane and Mallory  are attending a professional development workshop. The first session of the day, “Early Literacy and the Home Environment,” presents the attendees with strategies to support families’ home literacy environments. The presenters encourage the participants to utilize tools such as a home literacy screening inventory to determine which families might need additional support. During the discussion, they highlight the value of literacy-rich home environments where parents or caregivers regularly share books with children. The presenters conclude the workshop by emphasizing the implications of early home environment on a child’s language and literacy development.

After the workshop, both Jane and Mallory have time to reflect on the content and their own literacy experiences. Jane experienced a very traditional middle-class upbringing. Her mother was a stay-at-home mom, and she has vivid memories of her mother and father sharing books with her. Their home was filled with literacy materials and her parents often read for pleasure. She even remembers the excitement of the day she got her first library card.

Mallory had a very different early literacy experience. Mallory spent most days with her grandmother. Their days were spent baking treats and tending to the garden. Mallory has memories of her grandmother telling her stories. The stories were sometimes based on their faith, and at other times they were full of magical creatures in far away lands. As a teenager, Mallory learned that her grandmother could not read. This explained why her grandmother filled their days by telling stories rather than reading books.


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The Early Literacy Journey: Supporting and Celebrating Young Learners Copyright © 2024 by Sandra Carrie Garvey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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