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Examining developmental changes in the skills underlying reading development

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Since most children in the UK start to learn to read in their Reception year of primary school (age 4 -5), it is feasible to measure the acquisition of this skill from the outset. I will present a recently completed longitudinal study in which we examined the influence of pre-reading skills on reading development in 444 children over their first four years of school. Findings from this study suggest that basic skills measured at school entry are strongly associated with reading ability measured four years later. The strongest associations were with print knowledge (PK), verbal short term memory (VSTM), auditory skills, phonological awareness (PA) and rapid automatised naming (RAN). Using a causal modelling approach, it was possible to examine these relationships more closely. Although a broad range of skills showed associations with reading, a narrower set of skills directly predicted reading. Importantly, we were able to isolate which skills were critical in the earliest stages of reading acquisition (e.g., PK, PA and RAN ), and which skills were critical for longer term growth in reading ability (e.g., VSTM ). This study highlights the importance of a developmental approach since the skills that underlie reading change as children become more proficient readers.

This talk is part of the Psychology & Education series.

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