Investigating early literacy education believes of Chinese parents: misconceptions and uncertainties

Investigating early literacy education believes of Chinese parents: misconceptions and uncertainties

First Author: Si Chen -- Harvard University
Additional authors/chairs: 
Wen Li; Jing Zhao; Chen Chen
Keywords: Chinese children, Parents, Literacy, Misconceptions, Early childhood age 3-8
Abstract / Summary: 

Parent’s education beliefs directly determine the linguistic and education environment in children’s early literacy development. However, we know very little about Chinese parents’ current knowledge about early literacy education. The study investigates Chinese parent’s believes in early literacy development and education, specifically focusing on (1) Chinese word recognition; (2)second language learning in early age; and (3)relationship between Mandarin Chinese and dialects.

A sample of 10,000 parents from China with children from 3-6 years old answered to an online questionnaire. The questionnaire asks two types of questions, (1) parents beliefs and (2) parents’ response to misconceptual claims about early literacy development and education. Descriptive analysis will be presented first, followed with correlational analysis, path analysis and structure equation modeling.

Preliminary result has shown that parents tend to over-emphasize on the importance of Chinese word recognition before elementary school, with more than 70% of the parents set target for their children to recognize more than 300 frequent Chinese characters. Another preliminary result has shown that parents hold misconceptions about “window period”, with more than 50% in high SES families worrying that the prime window for second language (L2, e.g. English) will close after 6 years old, such worrisome is associated with higher emphasis on vocabulary oriented L2 education in extra-kindergarten curriculums. A path analysis has shown the link from social networking to conception/misconception and from which to parental anxiety and investment to extra-kindergarten language education. Further results of SEM will be discussed.

The study provides the first investigation of Chinese parents beliefs in early literacy education. It lays out a bigger picture of the connection between parent beliefs, anxiety and action regarding to early literacy education.