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Reading to School-Age Children Has Impact

A recent analysis by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) examined the long-term affect of parental support on literacy. It found that early involvement pays big dividends.

The OECD analysis, based on teenagers in 14 developed countries, found that active parental involvement at the beginning of school was a significant trigger for developing children’s reading skills.

The analysis focused on the reading performance of 15-year-olds. Students whose parents had read with them “every day or almost every day” or “once or twice a week” during the first year of school had significantly higher scores than those whose parents read a book with them “never or almost never”. On average, teenagers whose parents had helped with reading at the beginning of school were six months ahead in reading levels at the age of 15.

Differences in performance related to parent involvement partly reflected socio-economic backgrounds. However, when the scores of students from similar socio-economic backgrounds were compared, those students who were read to regularly by their parents in the first year of school scored 14 points higher.

The analysis also found that the score point difference in reading performance was largest when parents engaged in other types of parent-child activities in addition to reading with their children. These activities included telling stories to their children and talking about things they had done during the day.

The analysis also showed a student’s reading performance was higher if parents continued to engage in certain activities with their teenagers. Discussing books, films or TV programs; eating meals around a table; and spending time just talking were activities that were associated with better student reading performance in school.

The OECD analysis clearly demonstrates that children are never too old to benefit from a parent’s involvement. The full analysis can be found at
http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/43/54/33690904.pdf

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