|dc.description.abstract||The focus of this study was to describe children’s literacy learning in multicultural home and school contexts and identify and explore the intersection between the home and school literacy learning environments. Participant families and their teachers described various aspects of home and school literacy learning. Through interviews, photography, and journals, participants answered the following research questions: How do school institutions understand and encourage literacy practices outside the school and how are these practices used to support diverse literacy learners? How do learning experiences within the home and community differ from learning experiences within the school?
Data were collected via semi-structured interviews and researcher observations within the home and school contexts. Additionally, parent participants were asked to capture literacy and learning events through the use of cameras and daily journaling. The qualitative nature of the study allowed the researcher to record participant’s literacy experiences and understandings in the authentic environments of the home and school.
This research study reflects the theory of literacy as a socio-cultural phenomenon. This theory recognizes that literacy learning in any environment cannot be separated from its context and recognizes that literacy is more than individual skills, but rather a community resource that is developed through interaction with others. Although all families possess useful knowledge and understandings that allow them to arbitrate their daily lives, unfortunately, as this study demonstrates, literacies are often ranked as more or less legitimate by school institutions. Literacy practices which are in close alignment with the schools are more widely accepted, and those outside the realm of the school may be undervalued or ignored.
Based on this qualitative study, numerous characteristics of home and school literacy were illuminated. School based literacy was more formal and based on measurable goals for each grade, defined by the school, division, and curriculum. Literacy of the school was viewed in a more traditional sense, as a set of skills which could be measured and recorded. Home literacy, in contrast, was more informal and spontaneous and based on the needs and interests of the learner. Learners within the home were apprenticed by their parents in learning practical, hands-on skills which were used to help mediate their daily activities. Additionally, the study highlights the literacy understandings of both the parents and the teachers of the immigrant learners. Both parent and teacher views of literacy and learning were influenced by their prior knowledge and learning experiences. The learning experiences of the parent and teacher participants were in sharp juxtaposition. Parent participants recalled larger social issues in literacy and learning such as poverty, self-sacrifice, and education as a social mobility agent. Teacher participants recalled early learning experiences based on traditional Euro-centric understanding of literacy which emphasized the importance of early skills such as phonics, word recognition, and storybook reading. The teachers did not include larger social issues which affect learning.
The research found that students’ authentic home literacy experiences were used in the home and community to aid children to problem solve and mediate every day activities. The literacy activities were purpose driven and had practical applications. In the school context, home literacy experiences were incorporated into oral literacy learning activities and narrative and creative writing assignments such as journal and story writing. Despite the incorporation of home experiences in student assignments, these experiences were not used to inform teaching and learning in the classroom. Teaching methods and evaluation techniques were not regularly adapted to meet the needs of the English as Additional Language (EAL) learners. Students who struggled to meet the demands of the curriculum were often removed from the classroom setting to work on specific skills or referred to the resource room with learning challenged students. The teachers revealed reasons which they felt impeded them from delivering more culturally responsive programs and teaching methods including time restraints, large class sizes, and inadequate resources.
This study identified several broad issues in literacy practices and understandings. There is an evident disconnect between home and school literacy and their uses. This is partially due to the varied experiences and understanding of parents and teachers. Closing this gap means incorporating educational reform on many levels. Teachers must be aware of student and family backgrounds, experiences, and understandings in order to create a truly inclusive learning program for diverse learners. Culturally responsive teaching means using the wide knowledge bases of all families to inform instruction and evaluation.
Teachers need to be provided with adequate education in preparing them for the realities of today’s classroom. Culturally and linguistically diverse modern classroom have challenges which many teachers do not feel prepared. Providing adequate pre-service education on EAL learning and student diversity seeks to prepare teachers. Additionally, in-service education experiences on literacy practices for teaching in the culturally diverse classroom are essential in providing teachers with current information and resources. Furthermore, in examining existing parental engagement strategies, teachers can learn to create engaging opportunities for families to participate in their children’s learning.The broadest issue within the study is the multicultural reality for the immigrant and EAL student. The education system needs to move away from multiculturalism as a Canadian catch phrase involving foods and celebrations toward culturally responsive teaching which uses student’s linguistic and cultural knowledge to inform learning.||en_US