Emergent literacy and agency among disadvantaged parents and caregivers
A qualitative investigation into the emergence of literacy among five adult socio-economically disadvantaged subjects in a semi-rural setting complements concerns that a lack of specific forms of cognitive input during pre-school years has a negative impact on later progress in formal schooling. The subjects achieved levels of literacy that enabled them to play leadership roles in their communities although they had experienced limited or no formal education during their formative years. Using a GTM process the researcher identifies seven common themes that emerge from analysis of data from interviews and focus groups that explore the subjects’ perceptions of conditions that had promoted their literacy. These themes suggest that the subjects’ competence in literacy was facilitated by non-cognitive conditions including personal aspirations; resilience; disciplinary regimes in the home; voice; a nurturing mentor; community resources and ability to exercise agency. The researcher concludes that these themes could be important in contributing towards an understanding that developing children’s agency during early childhood may be more significant to achieving effective levels of literacy than the current focus on attaining academic skills at standards that disadvantaged children have difficulty in achieving.