British Journal of Educational Psychology

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Volume 78 Issue 3 (September 2008), Pages 355-506

Training parents to help their children read: A randomized control trial (pages 435-455)

Background. Low levels of literacy and high levels of behaviour problems in middle childhood often co‐occur. These persistent difficulties pose a risk to academic and social development, leading to social exclusion in adulthood. Although parent‐training programmes have been shown to be effective in enabling parents to support their children's development, very few parent interventions offer a combination of behavioural and literacy training.

Aims. This paper (1) reports on a prevention programme which aimed to tackle behaviour and literacy problems in children at the beginning of school, and (2) presents the effects of the intervention on children's literacy.

Sample. One hundred and four 5‐ and 6‐year‐old children selected from eight schools in an inner city disadvantaged community in London participated in the intervention.

Methods. This is a randomized control trial with pre‐ and post‐measurements designed to evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention. The behavioural intervention consisted of the ‘Incredible Years’ group parenting programme combined with a new programme designed to train parents to support their children's reading at home.

Results. Analyses demonstrated a significant effect of the intervention on children's word reading and writing skills, as well as parents' use of reading strategies with their children.

Conclusion. A structured multicomponent preventive package delivered with attention to fidelity can enable parents to support their children's reading at home and increase their literacy skills. Together with the improvement in child behaviour, these changes could improve the life chances of children in disadvantaged communities.

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