At preschool and ready to learn?
an assessment of prerequisite skills for reading and writing in children entering preschool in Darwin, Palmerston and rural areas

  • Gregory Wills

    Student thesis: Masters by Research - CDU


    The ability to read and write is one of the most important skills a child will learn. Success or failure in this will have a profound effect on the child’s future. Is the role of preschool to teach children to read and write, or prepare them to become literate?

    This thesis investigates relationships between factors identified as having significant impact on reading and writing success. Foundation prerequisite skills and demographic data of 329 preschool children in Darwin, Palmerston and the surrounding rural area of the Northern Territory (NT), Australia are examined.

    Three standardised instruments were used to measure a range of skills associated with literacy acquisition. As expected, age was a significant factor in all sub-test mean scores. Children achieved higher mean raw scores as age increased. The majority of children performed at or above expected age-adjusted mean score levels in most subtests, although would not be expected to be able to read even with these age appropriate skills. Many children also achieved low scores in some sub-tests, reflecting the diversity of childhood experiences prior to preschool entry. Few children scored below average in more than 5 of the 17 sub tests. Parent socio-demographic features, for example the number of years the child’s mother spent at high school, had a significant influence on sub-test scores: child demographic features such as handedness and Indigenous status however did not. The interconnectedness of skills is also seen in the significant associations between sub-tests.

    Prerequisite skills central to reading and writing acquisition and the role these skills play in preparing children for formal and explicit teaching are discussed, as is the importance of this range of skills to be included in quality early childhood programs.
    Date of AwardMay 2013
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorJoan Cunningham (Supervisor)

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