Getting ready to read: Working with parents to develop children's early metalinguistic skills

Date of Completion

January 1988


Education, Early Childhood|Education, Educational Psychology




This study was designed to combine two areas of research, each of which has produced significant results, in an effort to find better ways to prepare children for reading. First is the training of preschoolers in specific reading readiness skills.^ In the early grades, phoneme segmentation skills and reading skills are highly correlated. There is evidence of a causal relationship and further evidence that phoneme segmentation skills can be taught, resulting in enhanced reading acquisition (Bradley & Bryant, 1985).^ Recent research has found a correlation between an early metalinguistic skill, rhyming, and reading acquisition (Bradley & Bryant, 1985). Since the metalinguistic skills of rhyming, syllable segmentation and phoneme segmentation develop sequentially (Liberman, et al., 1980), it seems likely that they build one upon the other. This study focuses on developing rhyming skills of preschool children.^ The second area of research is the training of parents in techniques which will enhance their children's development. This approach has been effective in language, cognitive and social development.^ This study involves working with mothers of Head Start children. Mothers of one experimental group were to read to their children from selected books which emphasize rhyme and were taught a strategy for enhancing rhyming skills. Mothers in a second experimental group were to read to their children from selected books that focus on a story. Pre and post tests of rhyming skills were administered to Head Start children whose mothers were in the above groups and to a comparison group of Head Start children. Rhyme test scores were analyzed by Analysis of Covariance.^ Although supplied with certain books and reading lists, mothers in both experimental groups independently expanded their reading to include books in both rhyme and story. Children in both experimental groups had significantly greater gain on this rhyme test than children in the Control Group. ^