Continuity in literacy achievements from kindergarten to first grade: a longitudinal study of Arabic-speaking children

Safieh Hassunah Arafat*, Ofra Korat, Dorit Aram, Elinor Saiegh-Haddad

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The study addressed the question of continuity in literacy achievements from kindergarten to first grade among Arabic-speaking children in Israel. We examined (1) how age and family socio-economic status (SES) predict children’s literacy skills in kindergarten and (2) how age, SES, and early literacy skills in kindergarten predict literacy achievements in first grade. This examination is interesting due to the diglossic nature of the Arabic language and the low SES level of Israeli Arab families on one hand, and the transparent pointed Arabic script on the other hand. Literacy skills of 109 children were assessed in kindergarten and 1 year later in first grade. Path analysis showed that children’s age and family SES had a direct significant effect on children’s early literacy skills. Furthermore, children’s early literacy skills had significant direct effects on literacy achievements in first grade. SES had a direct effect on phonological awareness and word reading in first grade, but only an indirect effect on text reading. Children’s age in kindergarten had an indirect effect through early literacy skills on literacy achievements in first grade. Beyond the prediction of early literacy skills to achievements in first grade, the results highlight the unique role of child’s age and family SES, which continue to affect child’s literacy achievements in first grade in spite of formal teaching and the highly transparent pointed Arabic script. The results are discussed and educational recommendations are suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)989-1007
Number of pages19
JournalReading and Writing
Volume30
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 May 2017

Keywords

  • Age
  • Arabic-speaking children
  • Diglossia
  • Early literacy
  • SES

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