Thursday, June 22, 2017

Finding the Best Way to Read to Toddlers #Science

Few things will frost parents quite so quickly as telling them how to raise their kids.  However, the Rockhouse is specifically not trying to tell you anything but we do have knowledge which you may deem useful.  The salient point is who does the deeming and that won't be the Rockhouse but we will report on the reading.  Onward

The report is in two sections in which we will cover the first research and then the other regarding human touch at the end.


Pediatricians, educators, and parents have always agreed on at least one thing: reading to your toddler -- early on in life and regularly -- is vital to promote language acquisition and also an enthusiasm for learning.

But does it make a difference if parents read from traditional print books, or for parents and kids to engage with electronic books? This ongoing debate has seen several studies in recent years, but there are still many unanswered questions.

A new study conducted by Gabrielle A. Strouse of the School of Education at the University of South Dakota in the U.S.A., and Patricia A. Ganea of the Language and Learning Lab of the University of Toronto in Canada, and published in Frontiers in Psychology has found some striking trends. Electronic media may pose less of a disruptive impact to learning for toddlers than is the case for preschoolers.

Science Daily:  Screen time or story time? E-books better for toddler learning

Note:  if there's any editorial bias in this context at the Rockhouse, it's against bringing e-media around children due to the general thinking the human touch is always better, etc, etc.  We're willing to accept a surprise in the report so we continue.


The researchers were clear from the top on that which they were trying to validate.

Strouse and Ganea tested three broad hypotheses: 1) Parents will tend to point less to the pictures and pose fewer questions about the content with electronic books than print books; 2a) Children will point less to pictures and talk less about the electronic books; 2b) Children will exhibit higher levels of attention and engagement with electronic books; and 3) Children will learn less from electronic books.

- SD

Given that general thinking, it does not appear they expected the e-books to deliver on advertised promises.


And their observations:

Results showed that indeed parents tended to point at the book more often. There was no difference between the books in the amount they talked with their children about the story.

Secondly, children who were read the electronic books tended to more pointing than those who read print books, although this didn't significantly alter results. Children's overall attention was significantly higher to electronic format books than to print books and they were more ready for story time with electronic books.

Thirdly, while toddlers were more inclined to correctly identify an animal from electronic books, this difference was explained by differences in child attention and availability for reading. Thus, electronic books may not have been more supportive of learning on their own, but the increased amount of attention children paid to these particular electronic books may have resulted in increased learning. It's important to note that this may not be true of all types of electronic books.

- SD

Frankly, mothers and fathers out there, I'm not really feeling like leaping to my feet to dance with unbridled joy since the benefits of the e-books seem vague here at the Rockhouse.


Strouse and Ganea say, "One important caveat to our findings is that increased engagement does not always translate into increased learning." Books with different features may capture child attention more or less.

Other researchers have indicated that when electronic books have many highly interactive features such as hotspots that can significantly distract from learning. Indeed, say Strouse and Ganea, ." .. experiences activating built-in features that act as entertainment may heighten any tendencies children have to interpret electronic media as games rather than learning tools."

- SD

In the last, we have the fundamental Rockhouse disagreement with the use of such facilities insofar as they may tend to amuse rather than educate.  That's fine and dandy to amuse a kid but we need to be clear on when we're amusing and when we're educating; moreover, is it clever to try to do both at once.


For the conclusion:

The researchers say further that electronic books for toddlers primarily feature standalone content on individual pages -- a sentence or two. Whereas for preschoolers narrative content stretches across pages and children must knit together, or make sense of the story across the medium. To that point, electronic media may pose less of a disruptive impact to learning for toddlers than is the case for preschoolers.

Strouse and Ganea conclude that the positive engagement offered by electronic media warrants further research.

- SD

The Rockhouse heartily endorses the need for additional research and it's with the sympathetic understanding such research is bloody difficult, particularly when they're not your own kids as subjects.

Based on this research, I wouldn't be changing my educational program regarding my own kids, assuming I actually had any kids, but I would be keeping a watch on whatever else may come in the future from this type of work.

The biggest concern the Rockhouse has regarding the science of things is there's no mention of the value of the human touch nor is there mention of any idea of reading to a kid teaches more than reading and the meaning of words.


Here is one more piece on the value of a human touch and this is in the context of adult relationships but the fundamental is the same that the touch confers things far beyond tactile sensation.

Fathers-to-be, take note: You may be more useful in the labor and delivery room than you realize.

That's one takeaway from a study released last week that found that when an empathetic partner holds the hand of a woman in pain, their heart and respiratory rates sync and her pain dissipates.

"The more empathic the partner and the stronger the analgesic effect, the higher the synchronization between the two when they are touching," said lead author Pavel Goldstein, a postdoctoral pain researcher in the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab at CU Boulder.

Science Daily:  When lovers touch, their breathing, heartbeat syncs, pain wanes, study shows

The only editorial the Rockhouse has on that is possibly in the form of a poem at some later time since that's all the poetry you will ever really need and only in a few paragraphs.


The source articles are there for the interested students who may well be parents this time since the Rockhouse role in this one is to do the presenting and you all do the deeming on the value of it.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

How to read to your toddlers. Often as often as possible. The medium is not as important as tbe frequency and tbe level of interaction.
I believe that the amount of reading time would decide the medium. The more a child is involved in reading the less important the medium is. The key is the interaction of the adult and the toddler.

Peas InOurThyme said...

It's not for me to say but rather to listen and there's no reason to disagree anyway. I'll never forget the Mowgli stories as kids when the lights were turned down for the whole production. That's not quite the same thing since we were older than the ones in the research but maybe the youngest got a bigger bang out of that than I.

Anonymous said...

Your point strengthens mine. As do the readings of Christopher Robin and Pooh
It is the interaction that is important rather than the medium. Once they can read by themselves the interaction becomes more of discussion on what they read and the medium becomes even less important

Peas InOurThyme said...

I'm not really sure I have a point but I do have observations along the way. I don't particularly like computers around kids but nothing new in that. It's good to see agreement on this live reading experience since I do remember it well and it was one of the coolest things he did.

I don't recall discussing much of what I read with him, tho. Unknown if anyone else did. I'm sure there was in the early time but I don't have any particular recollection of it with he or Anne. Once we could read, we were often and running so it was a matter of absorbing it all after that.

Peas InOurThyme said...

That we did not talk about them much is a deep regret since who else would have got it better, particularly at that time. I do think we were too competitive and that wasn't so good when most of life isn't competition but rather showing up and getting it done.

Anonymous said...

He is a bad example. Since I can only remember three instances of his readings or being involved in reading.
My point was the interaction left an impression. He was a great teacher unless yiu had his last name
Computers are fine around kids. 8 and 9 year olds in reading class using touch screens have reading programs that allow them to read by themselves in class with one on one interaction.
It allows the teacher to see what is child is reading and how they are progressing from her desk. She can then target each child that needs more help than another Just as in math class, She highlights the problem to be solved and can see all of the children working the problem. Who solved it correctly and who needs help.
With class sizes in that age range often in the thirties in most public schools this would be a godsend

Peas InOurThyme said...

By eight or nine, the researchers weren't so concerned but the use with much younger ones wasn't so clear and, frankly, that aspect creeps me right out. I'm extremely concerned kids aren't getting socialized all that well and evidence is rampant narcissism via social networks, etc. For that reason, my preference would be to keep the computers away from the kids until they're really necessary and, in most cases, that would be well into the teens.

Anonymous said...

Luckily, you don't get to make that decision

Peas InOurThyme said...

Perhaps, but my perspective is relatively clear since I'm not enamored of the technology nor am I bound to any tradition so I do believe there's relatively little bias. You must have seen some of the utter rubbish passed off for software so sure I have a concern and I'm deeply concerned about the overall trends toward isolation relative to real socialization and the part computers play in that.