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Parent Mastery of Conversational Reading at Playgroup in Two Remote Northern Territory Communities

Abstract

This paper explores strategies that support Aboriginal parents’ mastery of evidence-based early learning strategies, and their impact on young Aboriginal children’s learning outcomes. The three-year study followed 32 parent-child dyads attending Families as First Teachers (FaFT) playgroups in two remote Northern Territory communities in 2015–2017. Trained FaFT staff provided parents with coaching in the use of Conversational Reading—an evidence-based shared reading strategy in first language—at FaFT. The study examined patterns of parent mastery across the three-year study period, the relationship between levels of parent-child participation at FaFT (program dosage) and parent mastery, and the impact of parent mastery of Conversational Reading on young Aboriginal children’s language and learning outcomes. By including measures of parent-child participation and parent mastery of key program strategies at three time points, the study also provides a picture of the fidelity of program implementation across the study period. The findings indicate that parents’ mastery of strategies (and thus the fidelity of program implementation) increased over time in line with the program dosage parents received. Higher levels of parent-child participation at FaFT and parent mastery of strategies at the end of the program were positively associated with children’s language and learning outcomes. This study demonstrates that the provision of coaching at playgroup is an effective way to build parent capacity in the implementation of evidence-based early learning strategies, and that supporting parent mastery of teaching strategies has the potential to improve the learning outcomes of young children in remote Aboriginal communities.

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Data Availability

Data files are available on request.

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Acknowledgements

This study was supported by the Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage project, LP130100001: “Building a bridge into preschool in remote Northern Territory communities” and the Department of Education, Northern Territory who were the partners in this grant. We would like to acknowledge the lead work of Emeritus Professor Collette Tayler in the Linkage project. Collette had a keen commitment to improving the educational outcomes of Australian Aboriginal children and was instrumental in setting up this study. Collette passed away in December 2017.We are grateful to the families and community members who participated in the research, and to the FaFT staff who played a critical role in contributing their cultural knowledge and wisdom throughout the implementation of the study. We also thank the Indigenous Early Childhood Parenting Reference Group (IECPRG) for their guidance and contribution.

Funding

This research was funded by the Australian Research Council and the Northern Territory Government.

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Correspondence to Jane Page.

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The authors have no competing financial and/or non-financial interests in relation to the work described. Joseph Sparling is the author of the Abecedarian Approach program on which the 3a program used in this study is based. He does not receive royalties or other benefits from the use of the 3a program.

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Appendices

Appendix A

See Table 5.

Table 5 Books used in conversational reading

Appendix B

See Table 6.

Table 6 Brigance adaptations

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Page, J., Murray, L., Niklas, F. et al. Parent Mastery of Conversational Reading at Playgroup in Two Remote Northern Territory Communities. Early Childhood Educ J 50, 233–247 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-020-01148-z

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Keywords

  • Early childhood education
  • Early learning intervention
  • Parent mastery
  • Parent engagement
  • Indigenous population
  • Australia