Title

READING IN CONNECTICUT'S KINDERGARTENS: A DESCRIPTIVE STUDY OF COMMUNITIES, TEACHERS, AND PROGRAMS

Date of Completion

January 1986

Keywords

Education, Reading

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

This study sought to provide a comprehensive description of the state of reading instruction in Connecticut's kindergarten classrooms by investigating characteristics of communities and classrooms, teacher background and philosophy, as well as instructional programs.^ The review of literature suggested that philosophies and practices in reading, reading readiness, and language instruction are changing. Recent trends toward more formal reading instruction and all-day kindergartens have led to concerns for their effects on the kindergarten child.^ The population sample consisted of 300 randomly selected kindergarten teachers. Three research techniques were used: a small questionnaire, telephone interviews, and comparison of questionnaire and interview results with kindergarten report cards from every district in the state. With a response rate of 62.7%, the questionnaire items were analyzed using descriptive statistics and a chi square analysis where appropriate. These results were compared with several earlier studies, with the qualitative data and with a report card skills analysis.^ The results showed a great diversity in classroom, teacher and program descriptors. The mean size of classes was twenty pupils, and the mean length of time spent in class was 3 1/4 hours per day. Almost all kindergarten teachers held a Masters degree. Teachers were more highly experienced than in earlier studies, and the most experienced were most negative about the teaching of reading in kindergarten. Teachers favored the use of language experience but didn't always use it because of lack of time and help. Teachers, particularly those who taught two 2 1/2 hour sessions, felt pressure from parents to teach reading before they and their students were ready. Over half the teachers reported using commercial materials daily, but desired more flexibility in their use. Programs which combined letter identification with listening and speaking activities were most popular, as was reading aloud to the class. Report card items reflected more of an emphasis on letter, sound, and word identification, while questionnaire responses reflected a more balanced program.^ It is recommended that districts inform and educate parents concerning the beginning reading process, encourage the use of language experience, and provide opportunities for regular communication between kindergarten teachers. ^