Familial risk and environmental protective factors of literacy skill: A multifactorial perspective

Familial risk and environmental protective factors of literacy skill: A multifactorial perspective

First Author: Sara Esmaeeli -- University of Stavanger
Additional authors/chairs: 
Kjersti Lundetræ
Keywords: Familial Risk, Emergent literacy, Home Literacy Environment, Literacy Skills, Multifactorial model
Abstract / Summary: 

Pennington (2006) has discussed that reading difficulties (RD) is a complex developmental disorder that involves the interaction of multiple risk and protective factors, which can be either genetic or environmental. These risk and protective factors (genetic and environmental levels) influence the development of emergent literacy (at cognitive level), which are prerequisite for development of later literacy skills (behavioral level). Regarding this multi-deficit model, it is argued that familial risk (FR) may operate as a risk factor that increases the likelihood of RD because it can negatively influence both emergent literacy and later literacy skills. Environmental factors, however, can operate as either or/both risk and protective factors. In such multifactorial models, a rich home literacy environment (HLE) can be discussed as environmental protective factors against risk factors such as FR for children’s literacy development.
This study aims to test a multi-factorial model of literacy skills to investigate the association between FR, emergent literacy, the HLE and children’ later literacy skills including spelling, reading and comprehension. Parents answered questionnaire regarding with the HLE and children were assessed in emergent literacy at the onset of formal reading instruction; and in literacy skills at the end of third-grade. The data were analyzed based on a modeling of interaction between FR, emergent literacy, the HLE, parents’ level of education and literacy outcomes within a SEM framework in Mplus.
This model suggests that FR explains additional variance in literacy that cannot be solely explain in terms of children’s individual differences in emergent literacy or differences in their immediate preschool environment such as the HLE. However, the HLE is associated with concurrent emergent literacy and can operate as a protective environmental factor to improve emergent literacy directly and later literacy skills indirectly.