The Effectiveness of “Pathways Preschool Chinese Programme” on improving language and literacy development of pre-schoolers with at-risk reading and writing difficulties
According to converging evidence from foreign and local studies, signs of reading and writing difficulties could be discovered early in preschool years before any formal diagnosis. This allows early literacy intervention, which could help alleviate children’s stress in preschool learning, facilitate their transitioning to primary school, and even prevent possible emotional and behavioural challenges that stem from learning.
To support the learning of pre-schoolers at risk of learning difficulties, The Pathways Foundation (Pathways), a non-governmental organization which strives to bridge the learning gap of children with dyslexia, designed an early reading intervention program, the “Pathways Preschool Chinese Programme”. The program integrates picture books reading with interactive language and literacy activities to enhance children’s language and literacy development. To evaluate the program effectiveness, a research was jointly conducted by Pathways and the trainees of the Master of Social Sciences in Educational Psychology Programme supervised by Prof. Lucy Hsu of the University of Hong Kong.
In the present study, 95 children studying in K3 were recruited from local kindergartens. The sample consisted of 61 children with at-risk reading and writing difficulties and 34 typically developing children. Among the at-risk pre-schoolers, 31 children had received 12 sessions of early literacy group training. All participants were assessed prior to and immediately after the training on their language and literacy abilities, including discourse comprehension, oral vocabulary, narrative production, word reading, reading fluency, morphological awareness, print awareness and reading motivation.
The result has shown that compared to at-risk children without training, those with training had significantly better performance in discourse comprehension, oral vocabulary, word reading and reading fluency. Their discourse comprehension ability was found to have even caught up with the typically developing children. This study provides research evidence for the potential of the “Pathways Preschool Chinese Programme” as an effective early language and literacy training for children with at-risk reading and writing difficulties. It is hoped that the program could be promoted to more mainstream kindergartens in the future in order to benefit more children in need.