This study examined the effects of adult mediation and literacy-enriched play settings on environmental and functional print tasks for 177 minority preschoolers reared in poverty. Eight Head Start classrooms were assigned to one of three conditions: (a) a literacy-enriched generic "office" play setting with an adult (referred to as "parent-teacher") encouraged to actively assist children in learning about literacy; (b) a literacy-enriched office play setting with a parent-teacher asked to monitor the children in their literacy play, without direct intervention; and (c) a nonintervention group. Prior to, during, and following the 5-month intervention, the frequency of each child's handling, reading, and writing of environmental and functional print was assessed through direct observation. Videotaped samples of the office play setting, collected weekly throughout the study, examined children's uses of print and functional items and their interactions with peers and parent-teachers. Following the intervention, each child was administered environmental and functional print tasks. Results indicated that although no differences were found for children's understanding of the functions of print items, parent-teachers' active engagement with children in the office setting significantly influenced their ability to read environmental print and label functional items. Qualitative analyses further detailed activities and strategies used in representative play frames. These findings suggest that adult interaction in literacy-enriched play settings may represent an important opportunity for assisting minority children who live in poverty to think, speak, and behave in literate ways.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/kathleen_roskos/111/