Schoolzone | A systematic review of the impact of parent-child reading

A systematic review of the impact of parent-child reading

Date: 24.04.2020

A stark gap in performance between children from higher and lower socio-economic backgrounds has opened up by the time they have reached school. This gap is especially pronounced for spoken language and school readiness, and has been shown to persist to the end of primary school and beyond.

Parent-child book reading interventions have been proposed as a potential solution to close this gap. However, there is a need to bring the evidence together to help inform policy and practice.

"Altogether, the review reported on 751 children receiving interventions, and 569 control group children, and were conducted across 5 countries. The mean age of the children was forty months. There were a number of key findings from the review. The first is that the majority of the studies show positive effects but the largest effect by quite a long way was on receptive language skills. The average effect size of 0.68 for receptive vocabulary is equivalent to an advantage of 8 months using criteria developed by the Education Endowment Foundation. 

"The average effect size for receptive vocabulary was twice that for pre-reading skills and for expressive language. This is especially important for two reasons. Receptive language skills are more predictive of later educational and social difficulties in school and, to date, evidence has suggested that early receptive language skills were the most difficult to change. Other findings from the review indicated that early book reading was powerful throughout the preschool period particularly for receptive language development, but book reading was also effective for children over three years of age and slightly more effective with more socially disadvantaged children. There was some indication that studies which included electronic devices had similar effects to those that used books. Importantly and unlike most of the findings from the other reviews our findings were relatively consistent or homogeneous (the results going in the same direction). This is almost certainly a function of the narrow focus of the review and gives us confidence in predicting what is reasonably achievable in this area. Finally, the intervention effects seem to be as strong when intervention frequency was short as they were for interventions that were greater in frequency."


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