Parent Literacy and Overall Child`s Success

ParentLiteracy and Overall Child’s Success

TamikaUnderwood, B.A

GovernorState University


ParentLiteracy and Overall Child’s Success


Thisarticle is a study that seeks to examine the relationship that mayexist between the parent`s educational level and how theirachievements may predict their children’s ability to succeedacademically. “The apple doesn’t fall from the tree” is aGerman idiom that is often used to explain the likelihood of childrento mimic the habits and behaviors of their parents (Vygotsky1979).Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory further validates this proverbthrough psychological research detailing the progressive developmentof childhood being a direct result of the environment and experiencesthey face while growing up (Vygotsky, 1979). The resultingassumptions create negative stereotypes about children, whose parentsmay not have been successful academically, yet instill the importanceof education to their children. Given that cognitive and behavioralpsychology is still evolving as a subject, there are manydisagreements about the validity of the sociocultural theory. Thisquantitative study will seek the opinions of Governor StateUniversity students who have earned at least a high school diplomadegree and may have children between kindergarten and twelfth grade.The questionnaire that will be distributed will aim to capture theperceptions of parent`s academic accomplishments and their child’sacademic achievements.

Tableof Contents

Contents Pages



Purposeof the Study……………………………………………………………………………….5

ResearchQuestions ………………………………………………………………………………..5


Definitionof Terms………………………………………………………………………..………7




DataCollection and Data Analysis…………………………………………………….…………15



Termssuch as family literacy and children’s literature/picture bookswill always exist in our daily lives. Family literacy is a phrasewith a comprehensive definition its interpretation differs relatingto how an individual believes family literacy should be evaluated oradministered. Indeed, Thomas and Skage (1998) attempted to definefamily literacy. Thomas and Skage argued that this task “may becompared to trying to capture a broad landscape in a single camerashot&quot(p. 5). Throughout this project, it will become apparentthat family literacy shall not be a new idea. “It is rooted in thetraditional history of the family as an institution for transmittingknowledge, values and skills from older to younger generations”(Handel, 1999). Federal policy and guidelines define the termliteracy services as services that are of adequate intensity in termsof hours, and sufficient durations. Services make sustainable changesin a family and integrate all of the following activities: (a)Training for parents on how to be the principal teacher for theirkids and full collaborator in their children`s educations, (b)Interactive literacy activities between parents and their children,(c) Parent literacy training that leads to economic self-sufficiency,and (d) An age that is fit for education to prepare children forsuccess (Handel, 1999).

Literacyis crucial in society and families literacy can also have an impacton generations and family households. However, to measure literacyone most understands what literacy is. Literacy is one of thestrongest indicators of an adult’s success however, one in fourchildren may not read a book written on an eighth-grade level. It isimportant for members of a household to learn how to read because itincreases emotional bonds between its members. Recommendations andimplications for educators and parents are available (Chaney, 2014).It is vital to read daily. Even when reading for twenty minutes a daycan increase literacy and functioning. When people increase theirreading rates, there is a sense of emotional well-being andincarceration rates decrease. In addition, when there is a positiveattitude toward literacy, members of a household perform betterChaney (2014).

Purposeof the Study

Thepurpose of this quantitative study is to determine the relationshipbetween parent literacy and children’s academic success. The studywill capture parent’s opinions on the importance of reading totheir children and their views on how reading as a family impact achild’s academic performance.


Thestudy addresses the following issues:


Whateffect does a parent’s level of education have on a child’sacademic success?


1.How will a parent close engagement with their children on learningactivities impact on the academic performance of the child?

2.How does the number of children a parent has influence the frequencyat which they check on their children homework?

3.How will a parent close contact or frequent contact with theirchild’s teacher impact of the academic progress of the child?


Thesociocultural theory will be used to explain the phenomenon beingstudy. This study will attempt to examine the link between parentliteracy and overall child’s academic success. The socioculturaltheory is an emerging theory in psychology that looks at thesignificant contributions that society makes to individualdevelopment. This approach stresses the interaction betweendeveloping people and the culture in which they live. Thesociocultural theory grew from.

Thework of seminal psychologist, Vygotsky, who believed that parent,caregivers, peers, and the culture, handled the development of higherorder functions. The sociocultural theory focuses not only on howadults and peers influence individual learning, but also howattitudes and cultural beliefs may affect how instructions andlearning take place.

Definitionof Terms

Thereare terms that are common in this study that are defined in thissection. These terms will help our readers in understanding theperceptions of parents of Governor of States University. Theattitudes of the parents will be necessary for our study. One of theterms that are common is Literacy: The definition of literacy hasevolved over time. Three statements of UNESCO at different timesspanning five decades provide an indication of the evolution of theconcept and definition of literacy. (a) A person who is literate isone who can read and write a simple and short statement of theirdaily lives (UNESCO 1958) (b) an individual may be functionallyliterate when he can engage in all activities where literacy isnecessary for efficient operation of his or her community and groupand also enabling her or him to continue with the usage of theliteracy for his own or for the communal advancement (UNESCO 1978)(c) Literacy may also be the ability of being capable ofidentifying, understanding and understanding written articlesassociated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum oflearning enable persons to attain their goals and progress in hisknowledge and potential then fully participate in the community andwider society (UNESCO 2005).

Anotherword that is common in this article is Illiteracy. Illiteracy is thecondition of being illiterate ignorance of letters, unlearned, theabsence of education esp. Inability to read and write. Also usedmore generally in a sense: ignorance, that means lack ofunderstanding (of any activity, pursuit, etc.). b. A mistake due tothe need for learning (Simpson &amp Weiner, 1989, Vol. 9, p. 656).

TheReview of Literature

Consequently,the review of the literature section will present a structure forthis study, and it is organized around several assumptions that linkparent literacy to overall child’s academic success. Illiteracycannot be broken until the family as a unit begins to learn andrealize the importance of education. In addition, parents andteachers have to work together to find common ground in eliminatingilliteracy. Literacy is one of the strongest indicators of adultsuccess.

Accordingto the U.S. Department of Education, literacy is defined as &quottheability to use printed and written information to function insociety. To achieve one`s goals, and to develop one`s knowledge andpotential&quot (White &amp McCloskey, 2003). The state of beingilliterate is to lack the ability to read and write or the state ofbeing illiterate lack of any or enough education. The situation ofbeing unable to &quotmake use of either printed or written articleto function in the society&quot inability to &quot has financialconsequences in that it is estimated that the cost of illiteracy tobusinesses and the taxpayer is $20 billion per year (United Way ofAmerica, 2010). If a child does not learn to read well within thefirst few years of school, the chances of poor academic performanceincreases significantly (About RIF, 2010 Asche, 2009 Canada, 2008National Institute of Child Health &amp Development (NICHD), 2005National Institute for Literacy, 2008). Although early childhoodliteracy is the key to futuresuccess, 35% of American childrenarrive at kindergarten without the basic language skills they will beneeded to learn to read (Reach Out and Read, 2008) (Chaney 2014). Also, as per the United States’ Department of Labor, as literatechildren grow into adulthood, they possess greater knowledge(Shonkoff &amp Phillips, 2000) and experience greater psychologicalwell-being, (Canada, 2008) reside in safer communities (due to alower number of incarcerated individuals from the neighborhoods U.S.Department of Commerce, 2007), enjoy a better standard of living thantheir illiterate or less literate counterparts (Asche, 2009) and havea decreased likelihood of future problems during their adolescent andadult years (National Research Council, 2002). Conversely,illiteracy predicts several long-term adverse outcomes, including,but not limited to restricted access to information and employmentopportunities (Waters &amp Harris, 2009) and increased thelikelihood of school dropouts. In 2007, 8.8% of students fromlow-income families dropped out of school (U.S. Department ofCommerce, 2011). High school dropout rates are also directly linkedto incarceration where illiteracy thrives (Alfred &amp Chlup, 2009)(Chaney, 2014). While ignorance increases incarceration rates,illiteracy among the household has the opposite effect and prepareschildren for better educational outcomes.

Additionally,a quantitative study consisting of 225 participants in a TexasElementary school found that there is a gap between the child, theparent, and the school. The survey was conducted to determine ifthere is a “gap” between community (school) and the homeenvironment. Many of the participants were parents, and they wereasked how often they read to their children, do they own books athome, at what age did their child begin school. The results of thesurvey revealed that most of the participants did not own books andonly read to their children about 50% of the time. However, this gapcan be closed by parents becoming more involved in the languagedevelopment of their children through reading and thereby normalizingliteracy in the household (Abdullah-Welsh, 2009).

Furthermore,teachers may also have to close the gap by using nontraditional waysto reach students in the classroom. For example, in addition tohaving children read in literacy compatible groups, teachers may findthat they can pair children who are highly literate with those whoare literacy deficient. Pairing instills confidence in the child witha strong foundation in literacy and builds confidence within thechild who has weaker literacy skills because a supportive readingrelationship with same age peers may be less intimidating.Furthermore, it is recommended that schools and their teachers createa high achievement orientation with teachers and parents. Schoolsshould also host formal and informal readings in schools(Abdullah-Welsh, 2009).

Besidesteachers finding nontraditional methods to increase literacy rates,it is imperative that educators stress to children and their familiesthe value of literacy. In particular, teachers and parents have tocombat adverse outcomes, such as dropout and incarceration ratesthrough literacy. Additionally, by having the entire family unitinteracts with children in the home environment, encourages morechildren at home to read. “Individual families are unique withunique styles of communication” it is imperative to find ways toincrease literacy within the household (Bowman, 2000).

Accordingto Donohue (2008), children who come from homes that support literacydevelopment perform better in school than those who come from homesin which there is little support for literacy (Clark, 1976 Leseman &ampDeJong, 1998 Morrow, 2001 Taylor &amp Dorsey-Gaines, 1988).Previous research illustrates many ways in which parents can supportliteracy (Baker, Sonnenschein, Serpell, Fernandez-Fein, &amp Scher,1994 Dickinson &amp Beals, 1994 Neuman &ampRoskos, 1997).Parental literacy support includes the literacy activities in whichparents participate with their children at home. Parents` who havehad a positiveexperience with their efforts in learningto read and write are likely to transmit a positive experience totheir children before children enter school, parents have the crucialjob of aiding in their children`s cognitive and social-emotionaldevelopment, while also helping them to prepare for their futureacademic endeavors (Donohue, 2008).

Childrenwho have difficulty learning to read when they enter school may lackthe initial literacy skills needed to succeed in schools (Whitehurst&amp Storch, 2002). One may argue that successful readers, and inturn, successful students, have been found in homes of variouseconomic and ethnic backgrounds as long as their caregiversencouraged early literacy development (Clark, 1976 Okagaki &ampFrensch, 1998 Taylor &amp Dorsey-Gaines, 1988). According toDonahue (2008) it was revealed that the factors associated with achild’s parents, family, or the general home environment have agreater impact on achievement than do school-related factors. Parentsare a child’s first teacher, and both qualitative and quantitativestudies have shown that parental behaviors, such as reading tochildren daily and having a positive interaction with teachersincrease literacy. According to these researchers, by issuing a richfamily literacy surrounding, the parent may support the academicgrowth of their siblings and assist them in literacy development.Children who are keen readers are read to daily, parents providebooks and encouragement, and children see adults reading and parentsexpress positive attitudes toward reading (Donohue, 2008).

Thehome literacy environment is a significant predictor of children’scognitive growth and academic achievement (Christian et al., 1998Griffin &amp Morrison, 1997 Teale 1986). In their study of 317kindergarten children and their parents, in which half of the samplewere Caucasian and half were African-American, Christian et al.(1998) found that the family literacy environment was apredictor of children`s academic skills. The family literacyenvironment was also found to be related to reading achievement,verbal achievement, alphabet recognition, and general information.These researchers found that the children of mothers who were lesseducated, but scored high on the Home Literacy Environment (HLE)scale (a measure of parents`literacy promoting behaviors developedby Griffin and Morrison (1997) Appendix H) outperformed childrenwhose better-educated mothers scored lower on the Home Literacy Environment scale. This study also showed that children who had morebooks in the home were stronger readers (Invernizzi, 2004).

Astudy conducted by Kelli Donahue and New York Department of Education(2008) using a sample size of 106 participants (all parents whosechildren were in kindergarten, ranging from the ages of four to sixyears over the course of a school year.) Many of the children in thestudy were five years old. Parents would be requested to respond toquestionnaires asking their age if they were single, married, orcohabiting. The survey also asked if they were the child’s primarycaregiver. The questionnaire took about 20 minutes to answer, and theresults revealed there was a strong connection between homeenvironment and literacy skills. Those children, whose parents hadpositive attitudes toward literacy and engaged their children inliteracy activities despite being single, married or cohabitingdeveloped stronger readers (Donohue, 2008).

Inaddition, there is evidence that states that children are more activein reading when siblings and other members of the household areengaged in active or recreational reading. For example reading books,magazines or newspapers with members of a child’s family encouragechildren to read more, and it helps children to become strongerreaders. (Invernizzi, 2004). Literacy gaps are present when childrenstart school, to address this concern non-school factor likecommunities and families must play a role in the acquisition ofknowledge and skills and likely to proceed with the influence aschildren age. Jane Waldfogel, of Columbia University, indicatesparents and the home environment are critical to children’s earlyliteracy. Parents (and extended family members) can provide a richlearning environment for reading and other cognitively stimulatingactivities, such as the use of a computer or visits to a library(Bowman, 2000).

Datafrom a home read aloud survey and observation checklist showed thatparent workshop instruction together with the practice of theread-aloud strategies and techniques resulted in substantial increasein the quantity and quality of read-aloud experiences in the home.Furthermore, participants had a betterunderstanding of their children`s emerging literacy. The outcomes ofthis survey are in support of the sociocultural theory that parentsreading aloud to their children promote literacy. Furthermore, thisstudy supports the viability of schools implementing reading projectsthat can play a major role in enhancing the literacy environment ofthe home. The roots of literacy are provided by early experiences inthe home. What many parents may do to assist their kids learn is morecritical to their academic success than the family`s financial statusor social class. The family`s value of education is transferred fromone generation to the next. Programs that teach and encourage parentshow to read aloud to their children may help to avert difficultiesexperienced by some beginning readers (Nickse, 1989 France &ampMeeks, 1987). A strong support for reading aloud to children issupported by research (Invernizzi 2004).

Researchhas positively linked parents reading aloud to their children to achild`sintelligence, creativity, self-concept,vocabulary development and building on the contributions parents havealready made. Schools are beginning to provide programs that teachparents and children together. Such programs that aim to raise thereading ability, behavior of adults and interfere with the cycle oflow levels of literacy have been termed” Intergenerational literacyprograms” (Abdullah-Welsh 2009).

Literacybegins to emerge from living in literate households while furnishedwith many literacy experiences (Silvern, 1989). Lack of literacyexperiences in the home often causes a cycle of low literacy to betransmitted from one generation to another. Many children areentering kindergarten without having quality experiences of beingread to by their parents or other adults. Many of these children arehaving difficulty learning to read. The lack of requisite languageskills is believed to be one of the causes associated with a problemwith formal reading instruction (Donohue, 2008).

Researchindicates that children who become early readers and who show anatural interest in books probably may come from families in whichparents, siblings, or other individuals have read to them regularly.Frequent story readings at home help children become familiar withbook language and recognize the function of written language. Storyreadings are pleasurable and a social event that contributes tobuilding a desire and interest in reading. Similarly, continuedexposure to books develops children`s vocabulary and sense of storystructure, both of which help them learn to read (Teal, 1981 Doake,1981 Strickland, 1990 Tobin, 1981). Research also indicates thatchildren who lack an adequate quantity of quality reading experiencesallowed in the home may be at a disadvantage when formal readinginstruction begins (Halen, 1994 Lovington, 1980). A growing numberof programs are being implemented across the United States that isattempting to educate parents about reading to their children andencourage them to do so (Invernizzi, 2004).


Aquantitative survey strategy of inquiry will be used to determine theperceptions, and opinions of Governor State University studentswho have earned at least a high school diploma and have school agechildren between kindergarten and twelfth grade. A quantitativesurvey inquiry will be preferred because it will enable theresearcher take not of each individual response from the parents atGovernor State University for easy comparison. The study will involveusing a section of the parents to make a general conclusion about theperception of other remaining population of parents.


Thepopulation will be students who attend Governor State University, whohave school age children. Sampling gives a representation of thetarget population (Peters et al., 2005, p. 209-224). Theseparticipants will be above the age eighteen and have at least onechild who is attending grades kindergarten through twelfth grade. Themethod of sampling that will be preferred will be conveniencesampling. Convenience sampling is a non-probability samplingtechnique where subjects are selected because of their convenientaccessibility and proximity to the researcher.


Questionnaireswill be distributed along with pen and, pencil. The surveys consistof sixteen questions that will be used to gather participant’sopinions and perception on literacy. I will use an interval level ofmeasurement for the study of the relationships between a parent’slevel of education and the child’s academic performances. It is aninterval measurement that the distance between the grading andresponses by the parents will be having a lot of meaning for my study(Reips &amp Funke, 2008, p. 699-704). For example, when taking thegrading on a range of a zero to ten, the distance between zero tothree and that of between a zero to eight is different and speakdifferent meanings.

DataCollection and Data Analysis

Onehundred questionnaires will be distributed at Governor StateUniversity in Hall of Governors along with a pencils or pen. Theparticipant will be asked to volunteer and complete thequestionnaire. The questionnaire will only take the respondents amaximum of fifteen minutes to complete feeling the requiredinformation. The survey will be cross-sectional the researcher willcollect all data at one time. Consent forms will be given to eachmember before completing the survey to assure the privacy ofparticipant confidentiality of all information provided. Thequestionnaire allows respondents to participate voluntarily in astudy without penalization (Dörnyei &amp Taguchi, 2010). Therefore,the participation in this study is voluntary since there is nopenalty for not participating. Respondents may have the right towithdraw from the study at a particular time without anyconsequences. All articles will need to be in a locked cabinet at theresearcher’s home and destroyed after completing the study.


Thedisadvantage of this study is that it only focuses on Governor StateUniversity students that have attained at least a diploma from a highschool and have school age children between kindergarten and twelfthgrade.


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ParentsLiteracy and Overall Child`s Academic Success

Thepurpose of this study is to gather participants who have children’sopinions an perceptions on literacy.

Pleasefill in the space below that best relates to you.

1.What is your gender?

  • Female

  • Male

2.What is your race?

  • Asian or Pacific Islander

  • Black/African American

  • Hispanic/Latino

  • White/Caucasian

  • Others (please specify)

3.In which category is your age?

  • 18-24

  • 25-34

  • 35-44

  • 45-64

  • 65- older

4.How many children do you have?

  • 1

  • 2

  • 3

  • 4

  • 5

  • More than 5

5.What category best depicts your annual household income?

  • Less than $25,000

  • $25,000 to $49,999

  • $50,000 to $99,999

  • $100,000 or more

6.What is the highest level of education you have completed?

  • 12th grade or less (no diploma)

  • High school diploma

  • Some college, no degree

  • Associate or technical degree

  • Bachelor degree

  • Graduate degree/professional

7.Do you read to your children at least one hour a day, every day?

  • Strongly Agree

  • Neutral

  • Disagree

  • Strongly Disagree

8.Based on your observations, does having books in your home encouragerecreational reading?

  • Strongly Agree

  • Neutral

  • Disagree

  • Strongly Disagree

9.Spending time with family involves reading together for fun?

  • Strongly Agree

  • Neutral

  • Disagree

  • Strongly Disagree

10.How often do you check your child (ren)`s homework?

  • Often

  • Not very often

  • Rarely

  • Never

11.Do you believe a parent`s involvement in early child literacy is thekey to their academic success?

  • Strongly Agree

  • Neutral

  • Disagree

  • Strongly Disagree

l2.Do you spend time doing homework with your child at least one hour aday, every day?

  • Strongly Agree

  • Neutral

  • Disagree

  • Strongly Disagree

13.Do you believe the educational level of a parent affects the child`sachievement in school?

  • Strongly Agree

  • Neutral

  • Disagree

  • Strongly Disagree

14.How often do you check on your child’s progress in school?

  • Every day

  • Twice a week

  • Once a week

  • Never

  • Others (Specify)

15.How often do you contact your child’s teacher to know how the kidis fairing on in school?

  • Every day

  • Once a week

  • Twice a week

  • Never

  • Others (Specify)

16.Do agree that contacting your child’s teacher may help the childperform better in school?

  • Strongly agree

  • Neutral

  • Slightly agree

  • Strongly disagree

  • Slightly disagree