Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)


Early Childhood Education

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Kimberly Hale

Committee Members

Don Good, Amy Malkus


Early Childhood educators agree on the significant influence of a parent on a child’s literacy development. The environment a parent provides, in addition to the opportunities a child has in the early years, have a major influence on a child’s literacy development. This study sought to determine how parents in a low-income socioeconomic group perceived literacy development and how their preschool-age children performed on an emergent literacy assessment. The 64 study participants were recruited from a Head Start program in the central Appalachian Mountains. An overwhelming majority of participants were mother/child dyads, every participant spoke English as a primary language, and the majority of the participants identified their race as white. Participants were asked to complete a demographic survey and a questionnaire. The questionnaire was used to identify parents as either having a more emergent or more traditional perception of literacy development. This data was used to determine if identifying characteristics, such as education level or caregiver role, have an influence on a parent’s perceptions (emergent or traditional) of literacy development. Additionally, parents were asked to document the 5 most important things they are doing to help their child become a successful reader.

It was concluded that no significant relationship exists between the parental perceptions and the child’s emergent literacy skills. The significance of this finding is two-fold. First, parent trainings in literacy development must focus on specific skills or methods that parents need to encourage literacy development, instead of the theoretical approach behind literacy development. Additionally, the sample overwhelmingly reported “reading to their child” as something they value; therefore, parent trainings should focus on how to share stories with a child, instead of simply asserting the necessity of reading to a child.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.