Reader parents make the smart kids

Toronto: Language-savvy parents are not only more likely to have children with higher reading scores but are also more attentive when kids read out loud to them, according to a study. Young children learning to read and write English often need to identify patterns in words to be able to read and spell them, said researchers from Concordia University in Canada. For example, knowing the “Magic E” syllable pattern can allow a child to understand why an E at the end of a word like “rate” significantly alters the word’s sound from “rat.”

Parents who understand such language complexity – known as reading-related knowledge – are able to spot the difficulties and explain them, researchers said. They also tend to pass on those skills when they listen to their children read, which in turn helps reading development.

The study, published in the Journal of Research in Reading, found that parents with higher reading-related knowledge are not only more likely to have children with higher reading scores but are also more attentive when those children read out loud to them. Seventy sets of six- and seven-year-old children and their parents participated in the study.

“We were interested in looking at two forms of feedback,” said Aviva Segal from Concordia University. “The first was commenting on how the child was doing, the second was measuring how the parent responded when the child hesitated or made a mistake,” Segal said.

The results confirmed that parents with higher reading-related knowledge offered more praise and less criticism to their children than those with lower reading-related knowledge. They also found that parents with a better ear for language tried to explain the relations between graphemes (letters and letter patterns) and phonemes (the smallest sounds of spoken language) to their children more often.

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