Emergent literacy and digital experience: Exploring the literacy environment of preschool children with speech sound disorders

Sarah Masso1, Elise Baker2, Sharynne McLeod3, Kathryn Crowe4, Jane McCormack5, Yvonne Wren6, Sue Roulstone7

2The University of Sydney, 75 East Street, Lidcombe, NSW, Australia
3Charles Sturt University, Panorama Ave, Bathurst, NSW, Australia
4Charles Sturt University, Suite 1.01, Quad 3, 102 Bennelong Parkway, Sydney Olympic Park, NSW, Australia
5The University of Sheffield, 362 Mushroom Lane, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, UK
6Bristol Speech and Language Therapy Research Unit, Pines and Steps, Southmead Hospital, Westbury-on-trym
7Speech and Language Therapy Research Unit, Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, UK

Background: Children’s speech and literacy development is enhanced by input from many sources. Literacy skills begin to develop through exposure to books, print, and language at home and continues at preschool. Children’s exposure to technology assists with the development digital literacy skills. Understanding children’s literacy environment and access to technology is important particularly for children with speech sound disorders (SSD) who may find reading difficult. Aims to describe: (1) home literacy and digital literacy environments, and (2) print knowledge of preschool children with SSD. Methods: Parents and preschool directors of 123 4- to 5-year-old children with SSD completed questionnaires about access to books and computers. Children’s knowledge of print concepts and letter names/sounds was assessed. Results: Two key findings emerged: (1) some children had rich literacy and digital environments at home and at preschool whereas others did not. For example, more than half of parents first read to their child before they were 12 months old and most children had some access to books at home. A mean number of computers available for children to use at the preschool was 2.84 (range 0-8). (2) Children’s print knowledge was poor despite access to books at home and at preschool. Children’s knowledge of print concepts and letters varied with 37% understanding page directionality, 50% knowing less than four letter names, and 60% having no knowledge of letter sounds. Discussion: Understanding home and preschool literacy environments may assist with parents’ and educators’ the facilitation of emergent literacy skills of preschool children with SSD.

Biography

Sarah Masso is a speech pathologist and clinical researcher who has worked with children in community health centres and preschools throughout Sydney, Australia. She is currently working as a research officer and PhD candidate at Charles Sturt University, Australia on an Australian Research Council grant, the Sound Start Study (DP130102545). Her research interests include the development of phonological processing and literacy in children with speech sound disorders.