USU study promotes reading without words

Language development is extremely important for children at an early age, which is why professors and students at Utah State University have conducted a study to help promote parent involvement in their child’s development.This stemmed from a larger study, funded by the Department of Education, that focused on using “Family Book Making” to help parents deal with their child’s development delays. This particular study looked more closely at how mothers read to their children. Lisa Boyce, USU’s Interim Executive for Family Consumer and Human Development, was involved with the study and she said they found that mothers and children talked a lot more to each other when they were reading books without words.Student researchers went into homes of participants and taped the interaction between mother and child while reading books with texts, and books without. Boyce said their hypothesis going into these homes was that parents would ask more questions and be more responsive to their children.”Mothers were just talking a lot more, more back and forth communication, more responsive to what their children were saying,” Boyce said. “We got excited and looked at more videos to see if it was just a one time thing, and it wasn’t.”Students presented their findings at a national conference, and Boyce said they are now working on getting it published in a peer-reviewed journal.The literacy level of the parents doesn’t come into play in these scenarios and Boyce said that is something she is most excited about. She said parents can just pick up the books and talk about the pictures.”They are able to follow the child’s lead which is important,” she said, “because if a child is interested in something, they are paying closer attention.”This is something that parents do naturally and it is a good strategy to promote children’s language no matter what level they are at, Boyce said. The study focused on two year olds that were all were receiving early delayed development therapy. The majority of children had speech and language delays.Language growth that is so critical early on in a child’s life, comes from interacting and talking to their parents, Boyce said. Children naturally have short attention spans, but she said when parents pause and ask questions about what they think will happen next, they are more likely to pay attention longer.Most students who participated in this study were undergraduates at USU, and one student used this study for her master’s project. She said they were all really excited to follow through with their first thoughts to their data and research. Boyce said she will be incorporating these findings in her classroom, and the application of this study is what will continue on.”The students have done a wonderful job. Just being in the family’s homes is just a rich opportunity for them to see beyond the text books and journals and apply it to real life,” Boyce said.The research group will submit their findings in the Fall to be reviewed.

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