One of my favorite things to do with my daughter is snuggling up on the couch with a stack of books. As parents we know that reading to our kids is important, but you might not realize that HOW you read to your child can also impact their literacy skills.
It turns out that making just one small change in the way you read provides a big impact.
Here's the trick:
While you're reading, point out letters and words on the pages, draw attention to capital letters and demonstrate how you read from left to right and top to bottom.
Why do this? A new study from Ohio State University found that preschool children whose teachers practiced this technique showed more advanced reading skills one and two years later compared to children whose teachers did not do that.
Related: How To Raise A Reader
This small difference was validated by researchers. “Using print references during reading was just a slight tweak to what teachers were already doing in the classroom, but it led to a sizeable improvement in reading for kids,” said Shayne Piasta, co-author of the study and assistant professor of teaching and learning at Ohio State University. The study involved more than 300 children in 85 classrooms who participated in a 30-week shared reading program. The kids were broken up into groups and the different reading methods were tested.
“If you’re getting kids to pay attention to letters and words, it makes sense that they will do better at word recognition and spelling,” Piasta said. “But the fact that they also did better at understanding the passages they read is really exciting. That suggests this intervention may help them become better readers.”
How do print references help preschoolers become better readers? Piasta said research suggests it helps children learn the code of letters and how they relate to words and to meaning.
“By showing them what a letter is and what a letter means, and what a word is and what a word means, we’re helping them to crack the code of language and understand how to read,” she said.
Related: Best Early-Education Apps that Work!
Researchers point out that most parents don't read this way to their kids. Now that you know why it matters, hopefully you'll start reading this way to your kids! Here are some additional resources to help you and your kids get the most out of reading.
Piasta conducted the study with lead investigator Laura Justice, professor of teaching and learning at Ohio State, as well as co-investigators Anita McGinty of the University of Virginia and Joan Kaderavek of the University of Toledo. Their results appear in the April 2012 issue of the journal Child Development.
What are your favorite books to read with your preschooler?
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KyAnn likes to write about all sorts of topics, including the joys (and challenges!) of being a mom to four-year-old Eliza. Look for her musings on motherhood, life in Orlando and all kinds of other stuff on GalTime.