The development of literacy amongst children in Greek kindergartens
This thesis investigates the development of literacy amongst children in Greek kindergartens. Performance on the precursors of reading (phonological awareness, letter knowledge and concepts about print) was explored, as well as the relationships between these skills and early reading and spelling skills during their time in kindergarten. Children's views and attitudes towards literacy as well as their experiences of literacy at home and in kindergarten were also investigated. These were explored in relation to the school environment. The project was undertaken at a time when new literacy policies affecting Greek kindergarten were implemented by Government initiatives. The participants in the study were 54 children from three separate classes in state kindergarten schools in Athens, Greece. Experimental tasks were developed to measure the kindergarteners' performance on the precursors of reading (phonological awareness, letter knowledge, concepts about print); on word-, sentence- and text-reading; on name- and word-spelling; to determine what skills they have upon their entry into kindergarten; and to map how these change over time. Children's and teachers' experiences and views on literacy were assessed through developed interview questionnaires at two points in time. Quantitative and qualitative methods were used to analyse the data. Results suggested that Greek kindergarteners' skills in letter-sound knowledge and phonological awareness were associated with their performance on early reading and spelling. The analysis further indicated that the informal literacy instruction children received in each kindergarten class resulted in differences between them relative to their performance on the literacy tasks. However, gender and age did not appear to have any influence on their performance in literacy. The investigation of children's experiences of literacy showed that all children had plenty of experiences of dealing with reading and writing, of being read to and of dealing with printed materials at home and in kindergarten. They understood the purposes of reading and writing. Teachers' views and attitudes towards early literacy appeared to influence their teaching practices, which, in turn, had an effect on the development of the children's literacy skills. The educational implications of the findings are discussed.