Paternal and maternal engagement in play, story telling, and reading in five Caribbean countries: associations with preschoolers’ literacy skills

Links between parent-child play, book reading, and storytelling and use of objects and children’s early literacy skills were assessed in the developing Caribbean nations of Belize, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, and Suriname using the UNICEF Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 4 and 5. The sample consisted of 10,976 preschool-aged children and their caregivers. Maternal engagement in play, book reading, and storytelling were highest in Belize and Jamaica and lowest in the Dominican Republic and Suriname. Mothers were far more likely to engage in play, book reading, and storytelling than were fathers in all five countries. Over 90% of children played with manufactured toys, nearly two-thirds played with household objects and outside objects, and a comparatively smaller percentage played with homemade toys across countries. Preschool enrollment, wealth status, number of books in the home, and children’s age were consistently associated with children’s literacy skills across countries. Book reading and telling stories, but not playing with children, showed significant associations with children’s early literacy skills as did homemade toys in some countries. Data are interpreted in terms of the relative importance of play, book reading, and storytelling for children’s early literacy skills development in Caribbean countries. © 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Links between parent-child play, book reading, and storytelling and use of objects and children’s early literacy skills were assessed in the developing Caribbean nations of Belize, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, and Suriname using the UNICEF Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 4 and 5. The sample consisted of 10,976 preschool-aged children and their caregivers. Maternal engagement in play, book reading, and storytelling were highest in Belize and Jamaica and lowest in the Dominican Republic and Suriname. Mothers were far more likely to engage in play, book reading, and storytelling than were fathers in all five countries. Over 90% of children played with manufactured toys, nearly two-thirds played with household objects and outside objects, and a comparatively smaller percentage played with homemade toys across countries. Preschool enrollment, wealth status, number of books in the home, and children’s age were consistently associated with children’s literacy skills across countries. Book reading and telling stories, but not playing with children, showed significant associations with children’s early literacy skills as did homemade toys in some countries. Data are interpreted in terms of the relative importance of play, book reading, and storytelling for children’s early literacy skills development in Caribbean countries. © 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

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