Emergent literacy skills and practices among two to six year old children: A case of selected households in Mambwe District of Zambia

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Kaunda, Lewis Ronald
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This study sought to establish the Emergent Literacy Skills and Practices among children of 2 to 6 years in Mwense district of Zambia. The purpose of the study was to establish the presence or absence of literacy skills and practices among children who had not begun formal schooling in selected villages of Mwense district. A case study of two villages was used and the study had a sample size of 20 children drawn from two villages. The population from which this sample was drawn was all the children between the ages of 2 and 6 and all care-givers in the two villages of Chisheta and Chipongoma. The researcher used convenient and purposive sampling to select the district and the two villages. Households were randomly selected. Purposive sampling was used to select the respondents as it starts with a purpose in mind and the sample was thus selected to include people of interest and those referred to here, included households where there were non-school going children aged 2-6 years. All the households used Bemba, so it was convenient for both the researcher and the participants. The study also employed a qualitative approach that included semi-structured in-depth interviews and participant observation. The data collected were grouped into both major and minor themes which were then analyzed further to come up with findings. This study established that children generally exhibited a number of literacy skills before starting formal schooling such as drawing, holding a pencil, scribbling, narrative and listening comprehension skills, singing, reciting memory verses and pretended reading. They were also able to engage in literacy-related games and play and other practices which them develop certain skills required for literacy development. The study further revealed that most households organized literacy practices and activities which helped their children to develop full emergent literacy skills and that the children’s elder siblings were instrumental in supporting the literacy development of their young siblings. Moreover, the study also revealed that at community level, there were a number of activities and practices which the community did not intend for literacy but which actually contributed to the children’s literacy development. It was seen that there was some home and environmental print to support emergent literacy.The study recommended that the government, NGOs and other stakeholders should design programmes that would educate or sensitise parents and care-givers to take interest in supporting the enhancement of emergent literacy in their children. It was also recommended that a TV or community radio station be opened for the villagers and their children from which literacy related programs would be broadcast. The study also recommended that more research be done especially to establish the link between the practices which people in Mwense rural engaged in and emergent literacy among their children.
Children -Language , Language arts(Preschool).