Home environment and reading attainment : a study of children in a working class community
The relationship between a number of home background factors and reading ability was studied in three samples (Ns of 63, 100 and 104) of working class children aged 7-8, using standardised tests given to the children, and parental interviews. Home variables studied included the reading model provided by the mother, her educational aspirations, her language behaviour, the help she gave with reading at home, the disciplinary methods she employed, and the extent to which she supervised and participated in her child's out-of-school activities. The home background factor which emerged as most strongly related to reading achievement was whether or not the mother regularly heard the child read ('coached'). Most of the other significant relationships found between reading ability and parental practices could be accounted for by the fact that parents who displayed attitudes and practices which appeared to favour the development of reading ability in their children were also more likely to have the habit of hearing the child read. For example, controlling for coaching markedly reduced the correlation between maternal language behaviour (as assessed using scales devised by Bernstein's team) and reading performance: conversely, controlling for maternal language behaviour had little effect on the association between coaching and reading performance. WISC IQ scores were obtained on one of the samples (N = 100) and it was established that IQ differences did not account for the superior reading performance of the coached children. When the amount of coaching which the children had received was related to reading test score, a highly significant positive association was found. The lack of attention paid in the past to parental involvement in children's school work is commented upon in discussion of the theoretical and practical implications of the study findings.