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Home School Connections in Language and Literacy

             For several decades now educators have recognised with great significance the integral role that parents play in their child's foundational language learning (Cairney & Munsie, 1992, p.1). It has also been suggested that the relationship between school and home factors contributes greatly to the variance within children's literacy performance (Rowe, 1990; Rutter, Tizzard, & Whitmore, 1970; Thompson, 1985, as cited in Cairney & Munsie, 1995, p.1). This is really evident through Heath's (1986) study of three communities. Considerable cultural variation was found in the acquisition of oral language and the way in which families introduced children to literacy. Focussing mainly on story reading, Heath was able to collect evidence of considerable differences in community styles of literacy socialisation. The place literacy held in each of these communities prepared children to greater and lesser extents to succeed or fail at school. For example, the children whose home literacy experiences were similar to school literacy experiences, performed well at school because school valorised and rewarded the types of literacy that they had, such as story reading and making meaning from text. On the other hand the community that was based around story telling rather than story reading did not match up so well with mainstream school culture because their literacy practices were somewhat diverse. Aware of this relationship between the home environment and school success, over the years multiple programs have been developed within Australia and other countries, to develop closer relationships between schools and communities in order to enhance student performance. These initiatives have taken many different forms and at times have been anything but helpful. Such participation programs are often ineffective and frustrating to both parents and teachers (Cairney & Munsie, 1995, p.

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