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Ants, apples and the ABCs: The use of phonics programs in early childhood prior to school services

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Abstract:

The role of explicit phonics instruction in teaching reading is a subject of much debate in the media and research literature. Commercial phonics programs (eg Jolly Phonics, Letterland) make strong claims for their efficacy in fostering young children’s literacy development, although there is little empirical evidence to support their claims. Commercial phonics programs are widely used in the early years of school. Recently, anecdotal evidence has suggested that they are also being used in prior-to-school settings such as preschools and long day care centres.

Little is known about how widely these commercial phonics programs are being used in prior-to-school settings, nor the reasons for their adoption by early childhood staff. This study aims to determine the extent to which such programs are being used, and to investigate the reasons behind the decision to use them.

282 responses were received from a questionnaire sent to early childhood staff, inviting them to answer questions about the use of commercial phonics programs, their beliefs about literacy development and pedagogy, and the reasons why they may or may not use the programs. The data were analysed using descriptive statistics. The study found that commercial phonics program are being used in 36% of the early childhood settings surveyed. There were differences in the use of the commercial phonics programs in relation to staff qualifications and service types. The rationale as to whether or not the staff used the programs ranged from pragmatic reasons, such as parent pressure or higher level management decisions, to pedagogical reasons, such as teacher beliefs about how children learn to read and write. This study has implications for early childhood teacher preparation programs, professional development of staff, the implementation of the Early Years Learning Framework, policy decisions, and the underlying beliefs of what is considered important in early childhood programs.
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Association:
Name: Children and Childhoods Research Symposium
URL:
http://www.iec.mq.edu.au


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p439606_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Campbell, Stacey. "Ants, apples and the ABCs: The use of phonics programs in early childhood prior to school services" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Children and Childhoods Research Symposium, Institute of Early Childhood, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, Sep 24, 2010 <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p439606_index.html>

APA Citation:

Campbell, S. , 2010-09-24 "Ants, apples and the ABCs: The use of phonics programs in early childhood prior to school services" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Children and Childhoods Research Symposium, Institute of Early Childhood, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p439606_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: The role of explicit phonics instruction in teaching reading is a subject of much debate in the media and research literature. Commercial phonics programs (eg Jolly Phonics, Letterland) make strong claims for their efficacy in fostering young children’s literacy development, although there is little empirical evidence to support their claims. Commercial phonics programs are widely used in the early years of school. Recently, anecdotal evidence has suggested that they are also being used in prior-to-school settings such as preschools and long day care centres.

Little is known about how widely these commercial phonics programs are being used in prior-to-school settings, nor the reasons for their adoption by early childhood staff. This study aims to determine the extent to which such programs are being used, and to investigate the reasons behind the decision to use them.

282 responses were received from a questionnaire sent to early childhood staff, inviting them to answer questions about the use of commercial phonics programs, their beliefs about literacy development and pedagogy, and the reasons why they may or may not use the programs. The data were analysed using descriptive statistics. The study found that commercial phonics program are being used in 36% of the early childhood settings surveyed. There were differences in the use of the commercial phonics programs in relation to staff qualifications and service types. The rationale as to whether or not the staff used the programs ranged from pragmatic reasons, such as parent pressure or higher level management decisions, to pedagogical reasons, such as teacher beliefs about how children learn to read and write. This study has implications for early childhood teacher preparation programs, professional development of staff, the implementation of the Early Years Learning Framework, policy decisions, and the underlying beliefs of what is considered important in early childhood programs.


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