The Influence of Family Beliefs
and Practices on Children's Early
Susan Sonnenschein University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Gene Brody University of Georgia
Kimberly Munsterman University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Just as oral language development has a history that precedes the child's utterance of his or her first word, so too does reading development have a history that precedes the child's ability to read a book ( Teale, 1986). The experiences that children have before entering school may well influence their development of reading in school ( Teale & Sulzby, 1986). In fact, Wigfield and Asher ( 1984) suggested that factors in the home may even outweigh factors in the school that predict children's desire and ability to succeed in school.
Virtually all children in a literate society such as ours have numerous experiences with written language before they enter school. There are, however, both qualitative and quantitative differences in the ways that children from different cultural groups experience literacy. The influence of these differential experiences during the preschool years may extend into the school years. For example, African American and Hispanic children continue to perform at least 3 or 4 years behind their White peers throughout school ( Laosa, 1984; Stevenson, Chen, & Uttal, 1990).
One explanation for differences in the ways children from different cultural groups fare in school is that children's home experiences are deficient. Another explanation, to which we subscribe, focuses on the discontinuities and discrepancies between children's home and school environments (see Thompson, Mixon, & Serpell, chap. 3, this volume, for
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Publication information: Book title: Developing Engaged Readers in School and Home Communities. Contributors: Linda Baker - Editor, Peter Afflerbach - Editor, David Reinking - Editor. Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Place of publication: Mahwah, NJ. Publication year: 1996. Page number: 3.