The Role of Home Literacy Environment and Oral Language in the Development of Rhyme Awareness Skills in Preschool Children in Zambia

  • Janet Serenje The University of Zambia
  • Beatrice Matafwali The University of Zambia
  • Mubanga Mofu The University of Zambia
  • Gabriel Walubita The University of Zambia
  • Sylvia Mwanza-Kabaghe The University of Zambia
  • Adrina G. Bus University of Stavanger
Keywords: Home literacy environment, oral language, rhyme awareness skills, phonological awareness skills, emergent literacy, pre-schoolers.


The home literacy environment and children's oral language abilities are key factors that influence the development of various components of phonological awareness skills in young children during their early years. Rhyme awareness skills, one of the earliest phonological awareness abilities to develop in children may also be fostered by these two aspects. However, the degree to which these factors support the development of rhyme awareness skills has not been extensively investigated in Zambia. This study explored the relationship between certain aspects of the home literacy environment (such as literacy resources, literacy activities, and parental literacy level), children’s oral language abilities and rhyme awareness skills of preschool children in Zambia. A total of 353 children (Mage=81.1 months; SD=15.7) from 14 public preschools in Lusaka province were randomly selected to participate in this study. Parents completed a questionnaire on their children’s literacy experiences at home, which included questions on the availability of literacy resources, the type of literacy activities children participate in, and the frequency with which they participate in literacy activities. Children’s language skills were assessed by measuring their receptive and expressive vocabulary and familiarity with the language of instruction in preschool. Both the ability to recognise rhyming words and the capacity to produce rhyming words were tested as part of the rhyming skill set. The data was analysed using a multiple linear regression. Results revealed that literacy activities at home and children’s language proficiency were predictors of rhyme awareness skills. However, the study did not find any association between parents literacy level, the availability of literacy resources in the home and rhyme awareness skills. Overall, the study underscores the importance of a supportive home literacy environment and oral language during early childhood. These findings hold significant implications for parents and policy makers in shaping early childhood education and promoting literacy development.