Parents and children wanted for university reading study

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Researchers at the University of Manchester are looking for parents and children to take part in a study looking at the benefits of reading together.

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Academics are looking for parents and pre-school children to take part in the reading study

The project, funded by the Economic and Social Science Research Council (ESRC), will look at the way parents and children communicate while reading together and during children’s free play.

Researchers are looking to recruit children in the North-West and Cambridgeshire who are aged between two- and-a half and four- and-a half years old and have language delay, but no other developmental delays.

The study will consider whether communication differs between parents of children with and without language delay, with the group of children without language delay to be tested separately in Liverpool.

The researchers will visit parents and children at home, where they will perform two play-based language tests with the children, ask the parents to fill in some short questionnaires, and video-record a short reading session and a short play session between parent and child.

The session will take around 90 minutes, with two hours allowed in case children require more frequent breaks. All families who take part in the study will receive a children’s book and another small gift. The researchers are hoping to test 40 children by April.

Dr Daphne Barker, a research associate on the project, said, ‘We know that spoken language at school entry is important for children’s learning. Children learn language in many ways; by talking with adults, reading together, the language they hear people speak around them, playing, and through all their everyday experiences.

‘For whatever reason some children do not learn language as easily as others. They are slow to talk and their own lack of conversation may change the way other people interact with them, which may affect them even more.

‘In this study we want to look at how parents and children interact when playing and reading. We will compare children with language delay and children who have a similar language level but who are younger. Then we will use this information to give better advice and training to families, nurseries, early years teachers and speech and language therapists.’

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