Children With Language-Savvy Parents Become Better Readers, Experts Say

Researchers from Concordia University’s education department suggest that children with language-savvy parents will become better readers in the future. The study was published in the Journal of Research in Reading, and it reports that parents with higher reading-related knowledge are both more attentive to their children’s education needs and have children with higher reading scores.

An important aspect that was measured in this study is the knowledge of the nuance of language. Usually, parents who speak more than one language are able to pick up the subtleties of how to pronounce or read different sounds. For example, teaching that the word “rat” changes a lot when you add an “e” at the end. Instead of simply saying that each word is read as such just because, parents with higher reading-related knowledge are able to identify the reasons for the different sounds, and when taught properly, this helps kids learn to read faster and better.

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The study was conducted on 70 sets of six and seven-year-old children and their parents. The groups were observed by researchers as the children took reading tests. The material was purposefully given at a level just above their average performance because researchers wanted to observe how parents would step in and help their kids. The parents were instructed to assist their children how they normally would, and the researchers recorded their verbal and non-verbal feedback while teaching their kids.

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Results showed that parents with higher reading-related knowledge gave more positive feedback or praise. This means that children are more likely to sustain the new knowledge throughout the session. The positive reinforcement allows the kids to make critical connections between concepts to further their reading knowledge. Parents who get frustrated in the assisting process have kids who don't truly understand the nuance of the new reading concept.

The findings can also be applied to the classroom setting. These results show that negative feedback is less helpful than positive reinforcement when it comes to learning new concepts. Especially with reading and learning a new language, kids need to be able to comfortably learn how to separate different concepts so that they understand the nuance of language. This is a difficult task for both the teacher and the student, so patience with the teaching is essential to the kids’ success.

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