Family Expressivity as a Predictor of the Home Learning Environment
Higgins, Nicole M.
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Family expressiveness describes the verbal and nonverbal communications in the home that have some amount of emotional content; they can be either positive or negative. Positive expressions between the parents and children are encouraging and supportive whereas negative expressions create more tension between the parents and children. This study explored the effect family expressiveness had on the home learning environment. The home learning environment is the environment that parents create based on their own beliefs, the amount of literacy materials in the home, and the amount of time they spend reading with their children. Previous research has shown that what parents do in the home affects a child's development, and that children perceive and react to the emotional expressiveness of their parents. Home learning environments are predictive of the development of a child's literacy skills (Bradley et al., 1989). The first hypothesis was that homes with higher levels of positive expressivity would have higher quality learning environments. The second hypothesis was the opposite, that homes with higher amounts of negative expressivity would have lower quality learning environments. The participants of this study were 435 mothers of preschool aged children from the Midwest. The mothers were all a part of two-parent households, and they completed questionnaires describing the levels of both positive and negative expressiveness in their homes, and quality of the home learning environments they created for their children. This study examined how parents express themselves in the presence of their children and how this impacts how the children interact with the literacy materials in the home learning environment. The results indicated that higher amounts of positive expressivity predicted a stronger home learning environment, while an increase in negative expressiveness detracted from the quality of the home learning environment. This indicates that children respond better to the home learning environment when their parents are more positive and encouraging of them, and less so if more negative expressivity is present in the household.