Original Research

Home as a primary space: Exploring out-of-school literacy practices in early childhood education in a township in South Africa

Rockie Sibanda, Leila Kajee
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 9, No 1 | a686 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v9i1.686 | © 2019 Rockie Sibanda, Leila Kajee | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 August 2018 | Published: 24 April 2019

About the author(s)

Rockie Sibanda, Department of Languages, Cultural Studies and Applied Linguistics, University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park, South Africa
Leila Kajee, Department of Education and Curriculum Studies (Educational Linguistics), University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park, South Africa

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Background: Early childhood education is essential in bridging home and school literacy practices; however, recognising the home as a literacy space remains a challenge to educators in South African schools.

Aim: The aim of this article was to explore children’s literacy practices, often through play, and the potential implications this might hold for their future careers as readers and writers. The article conceptualises home as the primary domain where literacy develops.

Setting: The study was conducted in a multilingual township in South Africa.

Methods: We engage with key theories in sociocultural studies and new literacy studies, as well as key ideas from young children’s learning experiences with family members and peers during play. Methodologically, we undertook a case study in which we conducted interviews with parents, guardians and educators, as well as conducting home observations of the children’s literacy practices.

Results: We confirmed that children’s out-of-school practices have the potential to support literacy development in school, and we concluded that children interact with multiple discourses during their everyday practices and play.

Conclusion: Although there is a general lack of knowledge and understanding of these discourses by educators, these interactions have the potential to enhance schooled literacies.


new literacy studies; literacy practices; children’s play; township; school; South Africa


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