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A New Approach to Developing Early Readers

A New Approach to Developing Early Readers

Can changing how you read to a child make a difference in how she develops literacy skills?

Yes, according to a recent study conducted by Shayne Piasta, a professor at Ohio State University; Anita McGinty, an education researcher who works at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education; and researcher Laura Justice. The study tracked children’s eye movement when they were read to by an adult.

While most children focus on the reader or the pictures in a book while being read to, this research suggests that children develop a better understanding of the reading process by focusing on the printed page. The study tracked two classes of underserved children. In the first group, the children were read to in the traditional format (the teacher reads the story aloud, points to the pictures, and asks a few questions). In the other group, the teacher was given study cards with simple phrases or questions to incorporate while she read.

The simple phrases asked the children to focus on specific words on the pages. The teacher was instructed to read to the children four times per week using this new format. Two years later, the study revealed that the pilot group developed stronger reading skills. While reading to children is encouraged because it develops vocabulary, making small changes in how you read helps children understand the reading process (practicing reading from left to right, learning letters then words, etc.)

“Children who focused their attention on print … had better literacy outcomes than those who did not,” says Piasta. “It was very clear.”

Can this new format of reading catch on or will it simply fade out? It’s difficult to determine who might embrace the new reading approach, but researchers agree that it’s an area that should be further explored.

Read more about this story at NPR Health Blog.
Learn more about the study.

Photo Courtesy: NPR