The Missouri Reader Vol. 41, Issue 1 - Page 20


As teachers, we are required to think outside of the box on many occasions to make certain the needs of our students are met. Disciplinary literacy is now a buzzword. It is used to help us gauge our students’ level of understanding with the discipline. Understandably, elementary students should be proficient in disciplinary literacy in the early years (Shanahan, 2014, p. 636) so they will become more advanced in this aspect of literacy in be proficient with this in the middle school years. It is time again to think outside of the box and plan for disciplinary literacy.

Early Learners Need Discipline – Disciplinary Literacy that is…

What about early learners, though? Can parents of preschoolers address disciplinary literacy, as well? Storch and Whitehurst (2001) state “literacy begins to emerge at an early age, long before children begin to read and write in the traditional sense” (p. 53). How can we help them? Preschool parents need an opportunity to engage with preschool and kindergarten teachers to address an early literacy focus.

Parent partnership programs should be designed to “help parents understand the importance of their role as first teachers and equip them with both the skills and the strategies to foster their children’s language and literacy development” in the early years (Developing Early Literacy Report, 2009, p. 173). “Research (1994) suggests that…preschool children…develop best in highly interactive parent-child relationships, where the adult is consistently responsive to the behavior initiated by the child, elaborating the child's language and encouraging play, curiosity and exploration” (Ball, 1994, p. 45). For example, when preschool parents spend time with their children on writing skills, there is evidence these little ones make connections between the words and letter sound association, as well (2004, Haney & Hill, p. 215).

Positive Parent Partnerships

As the child’s first teacher, parents should be invited to the school setting for literacy events. Including parent participation in preschool initiatives will nurture positive school community relationships and may promote continued collaborative efforts in the future (Flouri and Buchanan, 2004). If research identifies preschool parents as being in an auspicious place to prepare their early learners for future success in school, then it would stand to reason they should provide an initial introduction to disciplinary literacy as a catalyst for limitless learning, as well.

The Love of Learning – Viewing People and the Environment in My World

For the love of learning, it is very important these students start off their educational experience with a love of learning. How can teachers encourage parents to embrace disciplinary literacy for these early learners without stressing out the parents or the children? Building relationships is key to any positive learning environment. Specifically, children will enjoy the opportunity to learn about relationships between people and the environment as part of the disciplinary literacy focus. Teachers are in an advantageous place to recommend learning experiences that

Preschool Parent Partnership:

What About Disciplinary Literacy?

By: Julie Hentges