Literacy Behaviours Which Pre-schoolers exhibit in selected households of Lusaka

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Musonda, Mary-Grace
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This work sought to establish the literacy behaviours which pre-schoolers in selected households of Lusaka‘s Bauleni, Kalikiliki and Woodlands Extension exhibited.The study had a sample size of 21 pre-schoolers and 15 care-givers. The population from which this sample was drawn from was all the pre-schoolers and all care-giversin the three areas. This study was considered necessary due to the current grade one curriculum which considers or portrays first graders as empty vessels to be filled with knowledge. This theory that children are tabular rasa (blank sheet) or the tap and bucket theory has been disputed by many psychologists and emergent literacy theorists such as Marie Clay. The study chose a purposive sample of 21 (11 girls and 10 boys). These children had not yet enrolled in any formal school and had never been to school. The participants were drawn from three neighbourhoods of Lusaka, two in high-density areas and one low-density area. In addition, the researcher interviewed 15 female care-givers, comprising parents and guardians.The study employed qualitative and quantitative research methods that included semi-structured in-depth interviews, participant observation, document study and testing. The duration for the field work was six months and involved several hours of observations and interviews. Each interview transcript was coded into major and minor thematic categories covering broad and specific areas guided by the research question. This study established that the teaching of directionality in reading and writing to first gradersdoes not go in tandem with the emergent literacy theory, which postulates that children are emergent readers and writers, not in the conventional sense, from birth. The theory further posits that children learn to read and write gradually, rather than at a particular point in time. This is referred to as reading readiness (Hall, 1987). This study has mapped the literacy behaviours which pre-schoolers exhibit in selected households of Lusaka. It tried to answer the question of what role parents played in facilitating their children’s literacy development from emergent to conventional readers and writers and what print exist in these pre-schoolers homes and surrounding environments. The study brought out literacy behaviours in the following categories: arithmetic was mostly practiced; television and radio were seen to have an influence on the pre-schoolers’ acquisition of oral language and emergent literacy through songs and advertisements;singing, which is imbedded with a lot of emergent literacy, was enjoyed by most of the children;singing the English alphabet song was prominent.The study also found out that children involved themselves in a lot of literacy related games such as Ciyato and draft. The study made the following recommendations.An appeal was made for teachers to be taking advantage of children’s emergent literacy. This would prevent teachers from repeating concepts which the children were already aware of. For example, this research noted that two weeks of the early stage of the New Breakthrough to Literacy (NBTL) was about concepts already known by most children long before they came to school. A further recommendation was madethat early childhood education may be run as private-public partnerships or through incorporation of preschool in the already existing primary schools. The other recommendation was that there was need to design adult literacy programmes so as to empower parents in helping their young ones become literate. This would address the existing situation in most areas as parents seemed left out from the education of their children.
Literacy(preschool)--Zambia , Education,preschool-Zambia , : Nursery schools(literacy)--Zambia