The Boys' & Girls' Clubs Association of Hong Kong
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Empirical Research on Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment Inventory (HOME) Synopsis for Research

Empirical Research on

Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment Inventory (HOME)

Synopsis for Research

 

1. Preface 

 

“Home” has a huge impact on children and is an important place for them to live in and grow up in. Home includes interactions between individuals and physical living environment. A large number of literatures have proved that the golden age for the brain and body development of children is 0 to 6 years old. Suitable home environment and family interaction lay a sound foundation for child development as they can provide all-round quality stimulation. It is vital to understand quality of home environment of children when examining the process of their growth. Therefore, it is crucial to validate a reliable and valid measurement scale which suits home environment of Hong Kong culture. 

 

The Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs Association of Hong Kong (BGCA) attaches great importance to early childhood intervention, with one of the mottos “Child-centred and Early Intervention”. Therefore, BGCA introduced Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment Inventory (HOME Inventory, 1978, 1984 & 2003) developed by Caldwell and Bradley for domestic empirical research. It aims to provide objective criteria for professional workers during home visits. They can then assist parents to provide stimulating home environment and foster all-round development of toddlers by observing and evaluating parent-child interaction and home environment. The research team translated HOME Inventory as《兒家.宜居家庭環境觀察量表》for better understanding of the public. 

 

2. Introduction of HOME 

 

HOME Inventory (HOME) is an important tool to evaluate home environment and is widely used internationally (Bradley, 2015). There are four standardised versions of this measurement scale: toddler version, preschooler version, child version and adolescent version. This research validates Chinese edition of the former two versions (refer to Appendix 1 for details). 

 

 

Toddler version 

(IT-HOME) 

Preschooler version 

(EC-HOME)

applicable for

toddlers aged 0-3

preschoolers aged 3-6

number of questions

45

59

number of subscales

6

8

indicators of subscales 

responsiveness, acceptance, organisation, learning materials, participation and diversity 

learning materials, language stimulation, home environment, responsiveness, learning stimulation, model, diversity and acceptance 

 

Research showed that family income, educational levels of parents, intelligence level of mother, support network from society, family condition (two-parent family) are positively correlated to HOME scores; whereas crowdedness of home environment, depression level of mother and parenting stress of parents are negatively correlated to HOME scores (Bradley, 2015; Goemans et al., 2016). Research also suggested that children’s achievements such as language, cognitive development and academic performances are positively correlated to HOME scores, but children’s behavioural problems are negatively correlated (Bradley, 2015; Goemans et al., 2016). 

 

HOME has been translated into different languages, such as Spanish (Goemans et al., 2016), but there is no available Chinese version currently, so this research has filled the research gap. 

 

3. Objectives and methodology 

 

3.1 Objectives 

HOME is an important tool for assessing home environment, but there is no validated Chinese version currently. So, this research focuses on validating the Chinese version of HOME. Workers can then foster child development as they possess objective criteria for evaluating home environment of toddlers and preschoolers. Objectives of the research are as follows: 

 

  • to validate validity, reliability and measurement attributes of Chinese version of HOME for toddlers 
  • to validate validity, reliability and measurement attributes of Chinese version of HOME for preschoolers

 

3.2 Period: September 2021 to August 2022 

 

3.3 Target groups: 

The research recruited 131 preschool children who aged from 3 years old and 4 months to 6 years old and 129 toddlers aged under 3 years old respectively 

 

3.4 Methodology: 

The research validated the validity of the research by analysing correlation between Chinese versions of HOME for toddlers and preschoolers and parenting stress, children’s behavioural performance, child development, family income and educational levels of father/mother. Moreover, the research reviewed reliability of HOME, including internal consistency reliability, test-retest reliability and inter-rater reliability. 

 

4. Basic information of interviewed families 

 

4.1 Information of pupils 

 

Toddler version

(IT-HOME)

Preschooler version

(EC-HOME)

 

number

%

number

%

Children in total

129

/

131

/

Boys

64

49.6

73

55.7

Girls 

65

50.4

58

44.3

Developmental problem(s) suspected 

37

28.7

42

32.1

No developmental problems

92

71.3

89

67.9

Children not yet admitted by schools 

92

71.3

3

2.3

School children 

37

28.7

128

97.7

 

4.2 Family background

 

Toddler version

(IT-HOME)

Preschooler version

(EC-HOME)

 

number

%

number

%

Father

6

4.7

14

8.4

Mother

123

95.3

117

89.3

Other interviewees

/

/

3

2.3

Father with university degree

34

26.4

33

25.2

Mother with university degree  

39

30.2

26

19.8

Father with matriculation or diploma degree

46

35.7

39

29.8

Mother with matriculation or diploma degree

57

44.2

41

31.3

Father with full-time job 

95

73.6

100

76.3

Mother with full-time job

52

40.3

45

34.4

Married family 

94

72.9

114

87

Family income ≥$26501

59

45.7

64

48.9

Family applied for CSSA Scheme 

30

23.3

17

13

 

5. Quality of home environment of toddlers and pre-schools in Hong Kong 

 

5.1 Chinese version of HOME for toddlers 

  • With reference to the median score (>32) in the original English version of HOME, more than 60% of the interviewed families (62.8%) showed satisfactory performance with the score higher than median. 
  • Among the 6 indicators, more than 50% of the interviewed families scored higher than median in “responsiveness” (51.9%) and “participation” (57.4%) respectively.
  • Research showed than fewer than half of the interviewed families scored higher than median in “acceptance” (41.9%), “learning materials” (45.7%) and “diversity” (47.3%).
  • The interviewed family underperformed significantly in “organisation” with only 31% of them scored higher than median. 

 

 

 

5.2 Chinese version of HOME for preschools

  • With reference to the median score (>40) in the original English version of HOME, more than 60% of the interviewed families (64.1%) showed satisfactory performance with the score higher than median. 
  • Among the 8 indicators, more than 70% of the interviewed families (71.8%) scored higher than median in “acceptance”, followed by “model” (65.6%) and “learning stimulation” (52.7%) 
  • Fewer than half of the interviewed families scored higher than median in “learning materials (35.9%), “language stimulation” (37.4%) and “physical environment” (42.7%). 
  • It is worth noting that the interviewed families did not perform well in “diversity” and “responsiveness”. 78.6% and 45.8% of the interviewed families scored lower than median respectively. 

 

6. Findings 

 

6.1 Validity of the research 

i) Relation between parenting stress and home environment 

Research showed that there is a significant negative correlation between parenting stress and HOME, meaning that the greater parenting stress parents face, the less quality stimulation in the environment for children to grow up. 

  • Chinese version for toddlers: Parenting stress is significantly negatively correlated to HOME indicators “organization”, “learning materials”, “participation”, “diversity” and total score. 
  • Chinese version for preschoolers: Parenting stress is significantly negatively correlated to HOME indicators “language stimulation”, “responsiveness”, “model”, “diversity” and total score. 

 

ii) Relation between child behavioral performance and home environment 

Research showed that there is a significant negative correlation between child behavioral performance and HOME, meaning that the poorer the home environment, the more child behavioral problems. Moreover, pro-social behavior of children is significantly positively correlated to HOME.  

 

  • Chinese version for toddlers: Total score is positively correlated to pro-social behaviors and HOME indicators “organization”, “learning materials”, “participation” and “diversity”. 
  • Chinese version for preschoolers: Total score is significantly negatively correlated to behavioral problems and HOME indicators “learning materials”, “language stimulation”, “responsiveness”, “learning stimulation” and “diversity”. Pro-social behaviors and “responsiveness” are positively correlated. 

 

iii) Relation between child development and home environment 

Research showed that there is a significant positive correlation between child development and HOME, meaning that the better the home environment, the better the child development. 

 

  • Chinese version for toddlers: According to the Ages and Stages Questionnaires (ASQ), there is a significant positive correlation between total score and toddlers’ communication, gross motor, fine motor, social and adaptive performance and most indicators of HOME. 
  • Chinese version for preschoolers: According to the Hong Kong Comprehensive Assessment Scales for Preschool Children (HKCAS-P), there is a significant positive correlation between total score and preschoolers’ cognitive performance and HOME indicator “model”. 

 

iv) Relation between family income and home environment 

Research showed that there is a significant positive correlation between family income and HOME scores. Families with family income more than median household income ($26501) scored higher than families with family income equal to or less than $26500 in all items (except “responsiveness” and “acceptance” in Chinese version for preschoolers), meaning that the higher family income, the more family environment stimulation to children.

 

 

v) Relation between educational levels of parents and home environment 

Research showed that there is a significant positive correlation between educational levels of parents and HOME. Compared with parents with secondary school level or below, parents with matriculation or diploma degree scored higher in most items in the measurement scale, meaning that the higher parents’ educational levels, the more family environment stimulation to children.

 

6.2 Reliability of the research  

 

i) Internal Consistency Reliability 

  • Chinese version for toddlers: Research showed that the internal consistency reliability of most items in the total scale and subscales attained a satisfactory level for Chinese version for toddlers. 
  • Chinese version for preschoolers: Research showed that the internal consistency reliability of some items in the total scale and subscales attained a satisfactory level for Chinese version for preschoolers. 

 

ii) Test-retest Reliability 

Research showed that of Chinese versions of HOME for toddlers and preschoolers achieved a high level of test-retest reliability, with most items exceeded 0.80. 

 

iii) Inter-rater Reliability 

Research showed that of Chinese versions of HOME for toddlers and preschoolers achieved a high level of inter-rater reliability. The average inter-rater reliability of Chinese versions for toddlers and preschoolers reached 0.98 and 0.93 respectively. 

 

6.3 Rasch Analysis 

Rasch Analysis advocated the unidimensionality of the measurement scale. Meanwhile, satisfactory levels of person reliability and separation index were attained. Moreover, the analysis showed that the scale items tended to be easy.  

 

7. Summary and suggestions 

 

This empirical research suggested Chinese versions of HOME for toddlers and preschoolers achieved satisfactory levels of validity, reliability and measurement attributes, and are, therefore, the first HOME in Hong Kong which is suitable for families in town with toddlers and preschoolers. In light of this, the Association suggests: 

 

i) Evaluation – Prompting families to provide a more nurturing and protective environment by using HOME

Workers can use this measurement scale to evaluate home environment of toddlers and preschoolers during home visits. They can also prompt families to provide a more caring and nurturing environment to children at different developmental stages by referring to relevant indicators of parenting stress and child development, thus, attaining the result of protecting children. Furthermore, in order to allow workers to understand and utilise this measurement scale, the Association will strive to promote HOME, and provide training and guidelines to workers, so they can make good use of this measurement scale to help parents provide quality home environment stimulation to children. 

 

ii) Intervention – Elevating parents’ self-efficacy by intervening families in need

Through sharing objective criteria of HOME with caregivers, and providing appropriate guidance and demonstration to them, the quality of parent-child interaction is improved. Parents can foster all-round development of children by learning to provide stimulative home environment to them whilst their parenting efficacy is elevated, facilitating them to be more engaged in and adaptive to the role of parents. 

 

iii) Parent Education – Promoting evidence-based parent education 

Research showed that parents, who have the closest contact with toddlers, have a close relationship with child development in terms of home environment and parent-child interaction they provide. Therefore, apart from evaluating home environment of children by using HOME, workers have to strengthen parenting ability of parents. Workers can use this measurement scale to understand needs of families and refer to the Framework on Parent Education (Kindergarten) issued by the Education Bureau so as to offer parents with evidence-based curriculum on parent education. Parents can then understand developmental milestones and needs of toddlers, together with learning positive parenting skills and child-centred parenting mode, such as positive discipline skills, ways to handle emotions, parent-child game skills and parent-child dialogic reading strategies. Hence, all-round development of toddlers is achieved. Moreover, this measurement scale can be used as an evaluation tool to assess effectiveness of parent education. 

 

8. Conclusion 

There are all kinds of families in Hong Kong, which is a pluralistic society, but families play an irreplaceable role in child development. Every family is unique, and nurtures and supports the growth of children in its own way. 

 

Therefore, the Association hopes to affirms criteria of child development in the measurement scale and encourage families to provide child-oriented growth environment through this empirical research of HOME. It is also hopes that it can become a reference for the government and all industries to assist caregivers in fulfilling their childcare responsibilities, and objectively assist families to provide a favourable environment for children to grow up healthily. 

 

Meanwhile, it can also provide early intervention to families in need by improving quality of parent-child interaction, thus, enhancing protective factors of child development. On the other hand, it can strengthen sense of efficacy of parents, and promote families and caregivers in different situations for providing children with quality stimulation, so that children’s brains can be fully developed which builds a foundation for overall physical and mental growth, and they can become a healthy new generation of Hong Kong in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix 1: Items in Chinese versions of HOME for toddlers and preschoolers 

a) Chinese version of HOME for toddlers 

  • Indicators of measuring home environment include “responsiveness”, “acceptance”, “organisation”, “learning materials”, “participation” and “diversity”. 

responsiveness

This factor refers to the degree of reaction to which parents respond to behaviours of children. Parents provide verbal, tactile and emotional responses to desired behaviours, and interact with children naturally through speeches and actions. 

Example: Parents respond verbally to children’s vocalizations or speeches. 

acceptance

This factor refers to parents’ acceptance of children’s behaviours which are not the most ideal, and whether they avoid imposing undue restrictions and punishments on children. 

Example: Parents will not express obvious annoyance or hostility toward children.  

organisation

This factor refers to the degree of regularity and predictability (not monotonous) of the daily routine of family, the safety of home environment, and the use of services of community-support-family system. 

Example: Children visit supermarkets/convenience stores at least once a week. 

learning materials

This factor refers to the family’s ability to provide appropriate play and learning materials, such as toys and equipment, that stimulate development of children in order to help them develop comprehensively. 

Example: There are items that facilitate learning: bed bells, desks and chairs, high chairs and playpens. 

participation

This factor refers to the degree to which parents are actively involved in the learning of children, and provide corresponding stimulation for their behaviours as child grow up. 

Example: Parents give challenging toys to child to build new skills. 

diversity

This factor includes people and incidents of children’s daily lives, and some non-disruptive changes these people and incidents bring to children’s lives. 

Example: Family members read stories or child magazines to children at least three times a week. 

 

 

 

 

 

b) Chinese version of HOME for preschoolers  

  • Indicators of measuring home environment include “learning materials”, “language stimulation”, “home environment”, “responsiveness”, “learning stimulation”, “model”, “diversity” and “acceptance”. 

learning materials

This factor involves children having access to toys, books and games that promote learning, and are allowed to use these learning materials to enrich and broaden their knowledge of life. 

Example: Children possess at least two toys or games that allow him/her to express freely. 

language stimulation

This factor describes caregiver’s active attempts to encourage language development of children through mutual conversations, model and direct instruction.   

Example: Parents allow children to choose menus during breakfasts or lunches. 

home environment

This factor includes a safe home environment, being spacious enough and attractive to children. 

Example: The interior design of living space should neither be dark nor monotonous. 

responsiveness

This factor describes caregivers’ emotional and verbal responses to children, which give children the concept of warm mutual relationship.  

Example: Parents answer children’s questions and entertain their requests verbally. 

learning stimulation

This factor describes direct involvement of adults to children’s learning and the encouragement of children to acquire skills and knowledge that parents and child development experts deem important to children in early childhood. 

Example: Encouraging children to learn about spatial relationship such as up, down, above, below and size. 

model

This factor allows caregivers to demonstrate ideal and acceptable behaviours, and pass these expectations to children. 

Example: Children will not be treated harshly, such as receiving corporal punishment, because they express negative emotions. 

diversity

This factor describes care arrangement that provides diversified and rich experiences to children. 

Example: Children have visited museum(s) in the past year. 

acceptance

This factor describes the caregivers’ ability to accept children’s negative behaviours. Caregivers can have expectations on children, but not demanding immediate and severe retaliation for children’s negative behaviours. 

Example: Parents do not scold, yell at or belittle children more than once during home visits. 

 

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