A study was conducted to explore how children learn to read in kindergarten. The study employed a heuristic model that includes entering ability, home background, instructional processes, home support for literacy development, and measures of student ability at the end of kindergarten. Children were tested, whole-day classroom observations were made, and questionnaires were sent to parents in order to collect information that could be used to develop data-driven linear structural relationships between variables to explain how children develop reading ability. Results showed that children's performances in reading at the end of kindergarten are directly affected by their knowledge of letters when they enter kindergarten, by their active participation in reading activities at home, and by the amount of phonics instruction and word meaning instruction that they receive in school. These results are discussed in terms of what parents and teachers can do within these areas to affect reading development directly. An explanation of the formation of two constructs, one for decoding ability and the other for comprehension ability at the end of kindergarten, is also offered.
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