“Preschool staff's view of emergent literacy approaches in Swedish preschools”.

Norling, M.
Early Child Development and Care, 184(4), 571-588.


The purpose of this study is to examine the preschool staff's view of, and approach to, working with emergent literacy at Swedish preschools. The overall research question is: How do preschool staff describe and explain the approaches they use in an emergent literacy environment at preschool? Within emergent literacy, children's learning processes with regard to reading and writing is something that begins with the children's literacy-related activities and participation in social learning practices.


Results of the study basically show that the preschool staff use what the author refers to as outside-in approaches as well as inside-out-approaches in their work on emergent literacy. Outside-in approaches such as play and supportive communication are the most common. The most common inside-out-approaches are emergent writing, rapid naming and print motivation.


Moreover, the study finds that the preschool staff generally work with an emergent literacy approach in their daily pedagogical work and not only in connection with specific activities or contexts such as circle time.


Furthermore, analyses in the study show that the preschool staff use a sensitive approach in connection with all activities at the preschools, e.g. by listening, giving feedback, encouraging play activities and stimulating friendships, as a supplement to more specific activities stimulating emergent literacy such as stories, emergent reading, supportive communication, emergent writing, print motivation and rapid naming. Results of this study and previous research suggest that play and supportive communication encourage children's development of emergent literacy.


Moreover, the study indicates that part of the preschool staff find some of the emergent literacy activities challenging, e.g. emergent writing and reading aloud. The staff also lack knowledge about how they challenge the children in connection with such activities.


The empirical material in the study comprises 52 focus group interviews conducted at 52 preschools in three different Swedish towns. The participants in the study were preschool staff (188 people) which consisted of preschool teachers (68%), day-care attendants (28%) and people with or without other qualifications (4%). The focus group interviews were transcribed and then analysed on the basis of a model inspired by Whitehurst and Lonigan's emergent literacy model to categorise and describe the most typical approaches used by the preschool staff in their work with emergent literacy.



Norling, M. (2014). “Preschool staff's view of emergent literacy approaches in Swedish preschools”. Early Child Development and Care, 184(4), 571-588.

Financed by

The Swedish Research Council