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They Say: Happy Kids Mean Better Readers

773556_83533147In 2005, Freakonimics authors Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt made the controversial claim that reading to children doesn’t make them better readers.

Instead, they listed a number of factors that had an impact on reading:  high socioeconomic status and highly educated parents, for example.  In short, your child’s reading success was based more on who your were rather than what you did.

According to a new study out of Ohio University, they were at least half right:  Genetics do play a large part in early reading development, say researchers there.  But parents of poor readers shouldn’t be discouraged, because they also found that a supportive environment can help all readers make good gains.

So what does a supportive environment look like?   According to HealthDay news, it included quality instruction in school, good nutrition, being read to (what do you make of that, Freakonomics guys?), and being well cared for by parents.

Teachers everywhere are groaning, because this is what they’ve been saying for years.  Kids learn best when they’re rested, fed, stress-free, and have support from their parents.

Researchers found that no matter where the kindergarten and first grade children in their study started, growth in learning skills was nearly completely dependent on these environmental factors.

So learning begins at home.  Not really surprising finding, but one that may give parents of struggling young students hope, while at the same time letting the powers who control funding and programs like No Child Left Behind understand that even students of the most talented teachers need good family support to learn.

What do you think?

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