Head Start Teachers' Beliefs and Reported Practices for Letter Knowledge
Children's knowledge of letters at kindergarten entry is a critical marker of literacy development and predicts later reading achievement. Young children vary widely in their letter knowledge and that variation may be due to the ways in which early childhood educators approach letter instruction. The present study interviewed 48 Head Start teachers about their beliefs and practices in supporting letter knowledge for children in their classrooms. Results indicated that early educators believe teaching preschool children about letters is important and they articulated a variety of strategies for promoting this knowledge, primarily through playful learning experiences. Teachers capitalize on children's names, particularly the first letter, when beginning their letter instruction, providing some evidence for why children's name letters tend to be first known. In addition, other features of letters (e.g., position in the alphabet) and research-based practices (e.g., teaching letters and sounds in conjunction) were not prevalent approaches to instruction.
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