Key Research Findings relevant to Reading Together®

Reading Together® is underpinned by a range of theoretical perspectives and research findings, which relate to literacy learning, family factors and home-school connections/partnerships. These theoretical perspectives and research findings are summarised in the Reading Together® Te Pānui Ngātahi: Workshop Leader's Handbook; Reading Together: Key features and related research findings 1982-2009; and other reports available via this site.

Key research findings about family influences on children's learning which are particularly relevant to Reading Together® are summarised below.

Home environments have powerful influences on what children learn within and outside school and are more powerful than parents' income and education.

Many parents require guidance on how to help their children at home. Replicating inappropriate teaching approaches which parents experienced as children - which are often all they know - can be unhelpful and harmful.

SOURCE: The Complexity of Community and Family Influences on Children's Achievement in New Zealand: Best Evidence Synthesis (2003), Ministry of Education.

A literature review commissioned by the Ministry of Education indicated that about 40 to 65 percent of variance in outcomes is attributable to the influences of family and communities, depending on the outcome of focus. [p3]

SOURCE: Improving Educational Policy and Practice through an Iterative Best Evidence Synthesis Programme. Adrienne Alton-Lee, Ministry of Education. Paper presented to OECD-US Seminar, Washington D.C., 2004.

Quality teaching effects are maximised when supported by effective school-home partnership practices focused on student learning. School-home partnerships that have shown the most positive impacts on student outcomes have student learning as their focus. [p vii]

SOURCE: Quality Teaching for Diverse Students in Schooling: Best Evidence Synthesis (2003). Ministry of Education.

... different types of parental involvement can have large, small, or even negative influences on student achievement. [p44]

... It is also possible for schools to invest considerable time, energy and resources in engaging with families and communities in ways that have little - or even negative - impacts on student outcomes. For example, homework can support or undermine student achievement depending on how it is designed. Similarly, while most parents attempt to help their young children with reading, this can be a frustrating and negative experience for both parent and child. Positive effects are more likely to be associated with programmes that support parents with strategies for effective help. [p45]

Reading Together has proven to be a cost-effective intervention to support parents in assisting their children with reading. [p162]

SOURCE: School Leadership and Student Outcomes: Identifying What Works and Why Best Evidence Synthesis (2009), Ministry of Education.

Parents' meaningful involvement with their children's activities and interests is the most critical factor in their children's development, and the demands of that involvement escalate as children grow older.

SOURCE: Heath, S. (2012) Words at Work and Play: Three Decades in Family and Community Life. Cambridge University Press.

In recent decades, significant changes in childhood and family life, economic pressures, and the dominance of equipment/electronic media for children have had negative impacts on:
» adults' engagement and interactions with children in their families, and
» the language and cognitive development of children and young people.
SOURCE: Heath, S. (2010). Family Literacy or Community Learning? Some Critical Questions on Perspective. In K. Dunsmore, & D. Fisher (Eds.), Bringing Literacy Home (pp. 15-41). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Quote from NZ Government Release (2014) Literacy programme to benefit more communities

Reading Together®

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