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Monday, August 10th, 2015
You know that reading is important for your young child’s development. (Right?!) But new research from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital has found that kids who are read to—especially before kindergarten—have better language and literacy skills, as well as stronger parental relationships.
The study, which was published online in the journal Pediatrics today, focused on children between the ages of 3 and 5 years old to observe the relationship between brain activity and parent-child reading.
Each child’s home environment was assessed based on their access to books, frequency of reading, and variety of reading material. Researchers then examined each participant’s brain activity while listening to prerecorded stories during a MRI scan.
It was found that children who were brought up in more stimulating home reading environments were more responsive to narrative comprehension and visual imagery, which is important for language and reading skills. The authors note that children with strong literacy skills will be better prepared for school and are more likely to keep pace with their peers compared to those with poor skills. The study’s findings correspond with a policy statement released by the AAP in 2014.
“Reading is stimulating to children on multiple levels, both cognitively (i.e. story content) and emotionally (feelings, empathy, the bond of sitting on a parent’s lap). This goes both ways, with children feeling entertained, enchanted, and loved, and parents also share in this experience,” study author John S. Hutton, M.D., told Parents.com. “Parents (and children) who have enjoyed reading together will recall fondly these moments, which are unfortunately threatened by screen-based platforms such as videos and apps which tend to outsource the parent’s role to the device.”
Related: Study Reveals Reading Aloud to Kids Does Matter
Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn
Image: Mother reading to boys via Shutterstock
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Thursday, January 8th, 2015
Parents may think twice about skipping nighttime stories aloud after learning the results of Scholastic’s latest study, the fifth edition of the Kids & Family Reading Report.
The biannual national survey examined a child’s reading behavior and attitude toward reading. The updated survey included 2,558 parents and children (between the ages of 0 and 17). Study results determined early literacy was important, especially when parents read aloud to their children during their first five years.
More than half the children ages 0 to 5 (54 percent) were read aloud to at home between 5 and 7 days a week. The number declined to 34 percent when kids were ages 6 to 8, and then 17 percent when kids were ages 9 to 11. Although most parents (86 percent) acknowledged the importance of reading and wanted their children to enjoy reading for fun, most parents had stopped reading aloud to their kids once they could read independently. But 40 percent of children ages 6 to 11 actually wished their parents still read aloud to them.
Researchers also explored how a child’s reading patterns later in life, whether they would become frequent or infrequent readers. Frequent readers included children who read for fun 5 to 7 days a week while infrequent readers read less than once a week. For older kids, especially boys, reading enjoyment also dropped after the age of 8 because of interest in other activities. But for kids between ages 6 to 17 who were frequent readers, several factors contributed to their love for reading, which included having parents who were frequent readers and who read aloud to them often, starting at an early age.
The findings also concluded that independent reading at school is crucial. 52 percent of children surveyed said reading independently at school was one of their favorite parts of the day. And reading time at school was especially important for children from low-income families, with 61 percent of children (between ages 6 to 17) from low-income households saying they read books for fun mostly in school.
So how can parents instill a lasting love of reading in their children? Lead by example early on! If you introduce books at an early age, your child will know you’re an avid reader and she’ll likely mirror your behavior. Reading is also the key to improving vocabulary and inspiring imagination, so why not encourage consistent reading habits? Just because a child is able to read independently doesn’t mean you have to stop reading aloud together — make time to read together in fun, entertaining voices, and she’ll never put a book down. We live in a time where tablets and smartphones rule our world and children are becoming addicted to this technology at a much earlier age. Reading, then, is a perfect, “screen-free” alternative.
Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn
More content on raising frequent readers
Image: Family reading via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, November 12th, 2014
From eating a balanced breakfast to staying in touch with teachers, there are plenty of ways to help your child succeed in the classroom. But new research shows that your own education may have just as big of an impact on your child’s achievement in reading and math.
According to a study recently published in Journal of Research on Adolescence, a mom’s level of education can actually predict her child’s academic performance years down the line.
Researchers analyzed information from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort that followed a group of more than 14,000 students from 1998, when they entered kindergarten, to 2007. Reading and math scores were gathered and assessed in third, fifth and eighth grade. They found that children who were born when their mother’s were very young (18 years old or younger) and likely had less education, didn’t do as well in school compared to children who had older mothers, and likely more education.
A news release from the University of Michigan reports:
Trends indicate that mothers who give birth during adolescence have much lower rates of high school completion and college enrollment in comparison to their counterparts who delay pregnancy.
“These results provide compelling evidence that having a child during adolescence has enduring negative consequences for the achievement of the next generation,” Sandra Tang, the study’s lead author, said in the news release.
There is a bright side, though: Children of young mothers who were able to further their education, in spite of having children, did perform better in school compared to those kids whose moms did not continue their education.
While married and unmarried mothers tended to reach the same educational levels several decades ago, the study points out that in recent years married mothers are likely to have more education and therefore more resources to share with their children compared to younger, unmarried mothers.
It’s never too early to start raising a reader! Check out 25 best ways to foster a love for books, and the best children’s books of 2014.
Photo of mom and baby reading courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Friday, October 31st, 2014
It’s in the genes, according to a new study published in the journal Intelligence.
Professors from several universities including Florida State University and the University of Nebraska sought out to answer a common nature-versus-nurture question: “Can parents make their kids smarter?”
They found that when it comes to a child’s intelligence in adulthood, genetics—not parental socialization—is key.
Florida State 24/7 reports:
…examined a nationally representative sample of youth alongside a sample of adopted children from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) and found evidence to support the argument that IQ is not the result of parental socialization.
The study analyzed parenting behaviors and whether they had an effect on verbal intelligence as measured by the Picture Vocabulary Test (PVT). The IQ tests were administered to middle and high school students, and again when they were between the ages of 18 and 26.
“Previous research that has detected parenting-related behaviors affect intelligence is perhaps incorrect because it hasn’t taken into account genetic transmission,” study author Kevin Beaver told Florida State 24/7. “In previous research, it looks as though parenting is having an effect on child intelligence, but in reality the parents who are more intelligent are doing these things and it is masking the genetic transformation of intelligence to their children.”
But don’t stop the bedtime stories and dinner-table discussions just yet. While this study says IQ may not be affected by these activities, there’s certainly another benefit to them: invaluable parent-child bonding.
For more information on reading with your child, check out our age-by-age guide to reading to babies and 7 ways to encourage a love of reading here.
Photo of mom reading with kids courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Tuesday, May 13th, 2014
American children still read for pleasure, according to a new report, but not very often and not very well. Reuters has more:
The San Francisco-based nonprofit Common Sense Media, which focuses on the effects of media and technology on children, published the report, which brings together information from several national studies and databases.
“It raises an alarm,” said Vicky Rideout, the lead author of the report. “We’re witnessing a really large drop in reading among teenagers and the pace of that drop is getting faster and faster.”
The report found that the percentage of nine-year-old children reading for pleasure once or more per week had dropped from 81 percent in 1984 to 76 percent in 2013, based on government studies. There were even larger decreases among older children.
A large portion rarely read for pleasure. About a third of 13-year-olds and almost half of 17-year-olds reported in one study that they read for pleasure less than twice a year.
Of those who read or are read to, children tend to spend on average between 30 minutes and an hour daily with that activity, the report found. Older children and teenagers tend to read for pleasure for an equally long time each day.
Rideout cautioned that there may be difference in how people encounter text and the included studies may not take into account stories read online or on social media.
The report also found that many young children are struggling with literacy. Only about one-third of fourth grade students are “proficient” in reading and another one-third scored below “basic” reading skills.
Despite the large percentage of children with below-basic reading skills, reading scores among young children have improved since the 1970s, according to one test that measures reading ability.
The reading scores among 17-year-olds, however, remained relatively unchanged since the 1970s.
About 46 percent of white children are considered “proficient” in reading, compared with 18 percent of black children and 20 percent of Hispanic kids.
Those gaps remained relatively unchanged over the past 20 years, according to the report.
“To go 20 years with no progress in that area is shameful,” Rideout said.
Help make reading fun with this free “Animal Antics” reading worksheet!
Image: Girl reading, via Shutterstock
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