Academic journal article Reading Horizons (Online)

Writing with Parents in Response to Picture Book Read-Alouds

Academic journal article Reading Horizons (Online)

Writing with Parents in Response to Picture Book Read-Alouds

Article excerpt

Dear Child,

Every moment of life you experience is precious. I get lost in thought thinking about the past. I know you notice because I stare at you sometimes and you ask me why I do it. I always tell you.

A mother wrote this letter to her daughter in response to Karen Kingsbury's Let Me Hold You Longer during a parent writing session provided through a university-sponsored writing clinic. While her third-grade daughter received tutoring support from a preservice teacher, the mother participated in a parent writing session focused on reading aloud and writing in response to children's picture books.

Few empirical research studies have explored parents' support of their elementary children's writing development aside from emergent writing skills (e.g., Neumann, Hood, & Ford, 2012; Robins & Treiman, 2009). Although those studies explore building home-school connections to support children's literacy development, the focus is primarily on reading (e.g., Barone, 2011; Harper, Platt, & Pelletier, 2011; Niklas & Schneider, 2015; Sénéchal & Young, 2008).

This qualitative research study was designed to explore interactive parent writing sessions. As parents had to transport their children to the writing clinic to receive free tutoring, I seized the opportunity to provide parents strategies to support the home-school literacy connection (Fleischer & Pavlock, 2012). Through the parent writing sessions, parents learned to read like writers (Smith, 1983) and write like published authors through quick-write strategies (Rief, 2002).

The purpose of this intrinsic case study (Stake, 2005) was to explore the following question: How will parents respond to writing tasks in response to picture book read-alouds to support their children's writing development? Through triangulated data collected from parent writing session participants-2 grandmothers and 14 mothers-I studied how parent writing sessions may support home-school connections. This article also provides the curricular design of the parent writing sessions.

Theoretical Framework

Bandura's (1986) social cognitive theory, which focuses on how learners acquire deeper understanding through observation first and then through experience, provides a fundamental theoretical basis for exploring the parents' writing experiences. Modeling is a key component to effective writing instruction.

Through my modeling and encouragement, parents developed self-efficacy, which is an individual's perception of oneself as capable in participating in an activity (Pajares & Valíante, 2006). Parents needed to be prompted to attempt writing following my modeling. They also needed encouragement to participate in partnerships and whole group activities. Bandura (1993) argues that individuals need to participate in social, academic, and physiological experiences for their self-efficacies to develop.

Without experiencing the writing tasks, parents are unlikely to transfer writing to home contexts. Parents' modeling of writing and prompting for children is needed to support children's writing development. The home-school literacy connection is strengthened when parents join the collaboration to support their children's literacy development (Crawford & Zygouris-Coe, 2006). Epstein's (1995) framework for improving the school-familycommunity partnership includes parenting, learning at home, communicating, collaborating with community, decision making, and volunteering; each involvement includes myriad practices that schools, parents, and communities may use to support student achievement.

Writing is a practice parents may use to make connections, support their children's writing development, and strengthen family bonds (del Rosario Barillas, 2000; Fleischer & Pavlock, 2012). Parents are unlikely to write, however, if their self-efficacies have not developed (Pajares & Valiante, 2006). Parents often want to help but do not know how or do not feel confident in their abilities to help. …

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