Preschool Reading in a Digital Age
February 11, 2015
We play Mozart to our babies and plaster the refrigerator with magnetic letters in an effort to promote brain development. But, do fridge magnets really foster word recognition? And, what about apps that purportedly promote literacy?
A recent study by Professor Susan Neuman of New York University analyzed the efficacy of an app designed to improve school readiness skills in children’s early literacy development. The study followed 82 preschool aged students over a six-week period, tracking their letter recognition and phonological awareness.
If you aren’t familiar with the term, phonological awareness is the understanding that words are made up of sounds which can be assembled in thousands of ways to make different words. Once a child has phonological awareness, he can use sounds like building blocks to build distinctive words he uses every day.
And what did Professor Neuman find in her study? As compared to a control group that played with games rather than the reading app, the children in the “treatment” group improved significantly in letter recognition and phonological awareness. In other words, through playing with this app on their iPads, these children gained important skills to learn how to read. In my book, that’s a good argument for monitored iPad time as the research shows that a reading and phonics learning app, such as Pangolin’s ABC iPad app, can positively impact children’s literacy.
Now that’s a definite step up from fridge magnets!