Parental involvement in the development of reading among grade R children in an Indian community.
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This ethnographic case study explores parental involvement in the development of Grade R children’s early reading in four Indian homes in a South African community. Existing research shows that there is reason for grave concern in South Africa regarding the reading achievements of a large fraction of children. However, parental involvement in reading development at Grade R level in South Africa is conspicuously under-researched, more especially within the Indian community. The study addresses this through the capturing of rich descriptions of reading activities in four South African Indian families who have a child in Grade R. The study draws on a socio-psycholinguistic approach to reading, mediated learning theory and ecological theory to understand parental involvement in children’s reading development. Adopting an interpretative, qualitative, ethnographic case study design, it uses questionnaires, interviews, observations and personal reflections to gather data and thematic content analysis to analyse the data. The findings in this study highlight the mediating role of parents in their children’s early reading development. In these families, the children’s microsystem (parents, grandparents, siblings, and caregivers) mediated their reading development which was enriched through imaginative play. In addition, religious practices influenced the culture of reading in the families. The roles of parents in their child’s reading development were informed by their own personal early reading development experiences as well as their understanding of the importance of early reading development. Consequently, parents focused on developing their child’s vocabulary and comprehension skills, and influenced and encouraged their child’s imaginative play.