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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A review of daily conversations and practices at home: Exploring practices that promote early literacy in Spanish-speaking homes and home-school interactions

  • Author(s): Valdes, Maria Cecilia
  • et al.

Coming from a low-income heritage language family, like 17% of Latino families, entails important academic risk factors related to lower scores on reading tests. Considering that it is estimated that Latino students will represent 50% of the U.S. public schools’ population by 2050, their literacy learning must be supported adequately. The purpose of this literature review is to explore, from an ecocultural perspective, early literacy practices of low-income Spanish-speaking families and analyze the nature of literacy home-school interventions implemented for this group. The literature highlights non-traditional literacy practices that are strengths of the Latino families, such as a robust oral tradition focused on social cues, children’s engagement in written household chores, and the use of the Bible to pass values. Parents have mixed beliefs regarding literacy promotion: they do not feel prepared to support their children; thus, they support teachers as experts. Three types of home-school literacy interventions were found: printed material sharing; printed material exchange; family programs. As the literature posits, interventions should consider and be based on family beliefs, culture, and strengths; otherwise, effectivity and attrition are at risk. Moreover, new research should be conducted to bridge the gap regarding the role of family actors other than the mother, as well as the differences within the Latino community and immigrant generation.

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