Emphasis has been placed nationally and internationally by parents, schools and communities on reading literacy skills as it is essential to be able to participate in today’s society. Reading and literacy skills underpin literacy in formal schooling. However in order for children to cope in formal schooling, children should fist acquire the necessary informal and formal literacy skills. These literacy skills can be developed through early literacy experiences gained within the home context. The home environment plays a vital role in the development and acquisition of children’s reading and literacy skills.
It is the researcher’s intention to ascertain the role that the home environment and parental attributes play in influencing the reading literacy achievement of South African Grade 5 learners by conducting a secondary analysis utilising a standard multiple regression analysis (Tabachnick & Fidell, 2007) of the Progress in International Reading Literacy (PIRLS) 2006 data. PIRLS collected data using contextualised questionnaires to gain valuable background information. This study utilised the Learning-to-Read survey (a questionnaire which was completed by the parents or caregivers) in order to study the home environment as well as parental attributes. The conceptual framework of the study comprises home environment and parental attributes which might have an influence on learner reading literacy achievement. The study adapted Myrberg & Rosén’s (2008) model of direct and indirect influences of parental factors on reading achievement as there is absence of a South African model which looks at both the home environment and parent attributes.
The study hopes to provide insights through its findings, whether the home environment and parental attributes have an effect on learner reading performance. Particular focus has been placed on parental involvement since it is imperative to establish whether involvement is important for learner reading literacy. Reading literacy is an interactive process and it is clear that a learner will be able to perform at best when guidance is given in a cultural context. Parents, who actively take part in not only their children’s upbringing but their children’s literacy skills, can make an important contribution to their children’s reading literacy. There are cases in South Africa where parents are poorly educated but it did not stop them in inculcating a positive attitude towards reading literacy into their children. Parental involvement is therefore of great importance in children’s development of reading literacy skills.