Published Online: November 13, 2012
Published in Print: November 14, 2012, as Early Learning

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Early Reading

"Statistically Learning in Reading: Variability in Irrelevant Letters Helps Children Learn Phonics Skills"

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Teaching a variation of traditional phonics can help early readers learn better, a new study says.

Researchers at the University of Iowa, in Des Moines, found that varying the consonants in words instead of the traditional use of similar-sounding words with less variable consonants improved learning. The study was published in August in Developmental Psychology.

Researchers studied 224 1st graders in Des Moines schools. One group learned using words, such as "maid, mad, paid, and pad," with many of the same consonants. The other was taught more-varied words like "bait, sad, hair, and gap." The latter group outperformed the other at reading unfamiliar and nonsense words and applying their skills to new tasks.

Vol. 32, Issue 12, Page 5

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