New study highlights literacy-boosting practice

New study highlights literacy-boosting practice

Flexible approaches to reading can improve outcomes for children in Preschool and Kindergarten, new research shows.

According to the study, by researchers from the University of Wollongong in Australia, giving young children more flexibility in how they are read to would enhance their literacy journeys.

Dr Jessica Mantei and associate professor, Lisa Kervin from the University of Wollongong, have published a paper in the Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, focused on the ways students in preschool and kindergarten settings responded to reading aloud from educators and teachers.

Research was undertaken through observations and semi-structured interviews with educators.

The settings were chosen for the diverse social and cultural backgrounds they encompassed in two settings in NSW as part of a larger University of Wollongong funded project focused on transforming literacy outcomes for learners (TRANSLIT).

Reading aloud to students in early education settings is an important part of the literacy journey, but it can be developed and improved.

“Of course, it is well known that we need to read to children, but their early literacy experiences would be enriched if they had input into what is read to them,” Dr Mantei said.

The researchers observed that even when children were given some autonomy about what they are read, it was often heavily dictated by the teachers.

“Engagement would increase with greater student choice, thereby improving learning outcomes,” Dr Mantei said.

The research also suggests that while it is important to work towards curriculum aims, teachers also need to ensure they aren’t limiting the ways kids are interacting with texts.

“Teacher questioning that seeks specific or ‘correct’ answers restricts the possibility for diversity and imagination in children’s response,” the researchers said.

Building on this theme of imagination, Dr Mantei observed that often teachers focus question to students on their comprehension of the story.

“Children can be really creative in the ways they deconstruct texts,” Dr Mantei said.

“Rather than just asking questions that check that kids have understood what has been read to them, teachers can develop the outcomes from reading aloud by allowing for creative and innovative responses.”