An investigation of the perspectives of low-income Latina mothers with preschoolers transitioning to kindergarten

Sarai Coba-Rodriguez, Robin L. Jarrett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research in the United States (U.S.) documents that young Latino children whose families are characterized by demographic risk factors disproportionately lack the early literacy skills needed to successfully transition to kindergarten. Quantitative studies using comparative samples have found lower quality home learning environments and lower scores on a child outcome assessments among Latino children compared to their Black and White peers. A small body of qualitative, non-comparative studies that focus on Latino families in their own right provides descriptive accounts of the positive ways that Latina mothers and other family members promote child literacy development, despite being characterized by demographic risk factors. However, the social address variables utilized in quantitative studies limit our understanding of the family processes affecting child literacy development, and most qualitative studies focus on older, school-aged children with very few studies focusing on the early transitional period before kindergarten, especially for Latinos. Addressing current gaps in the literature on preschool-aged children, we conducted in-depth qualitative interviews and photo-elicitation interviews with 17 low-income Latina mothers of Head Start preschoolers in a northern Chicago suburb in the U.S. Privileging mothers’ voices and experiences, we explored their in-home emergent literacy practices and the role of other family members in promoting children’s literacy development. Informed by a family resilience framework, we accessed intimate family worlds that reveal highly engaged and resilient parents. Specifically, we identified numerous child literacy skills that families supported through an array of family instructional practices and tools. We further identified the role of various available family members, particularly fathers and siblings. These findings add to substantive discussions of emergent literacy, resilience and familismo. Insights from the qualitative interviews lead to recommendations for how early childhood educators can capitalize on families’ funds of knowledge, and view them as valued collaborators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-65
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Early Childhood Literacy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Emergent literacy
  • Latino/Hispanic families
  • family literacy
  • low income
  • qualitative research
  • school readiness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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