Environment plays a key role in reading skills development
While genetics play a key role in children’s initial reading skills, a new study of twins is the first to demonstrate that environment plays an important role in reading growth over time.
The results give further evidence that children can make gains in reading during their early school years, above and beyond the important genetic factors that influence differences in reading, said Stephen Petrill, lead author of the study…
“We certainly have to take more seriously genetic influences on learning, but children who come into school with poor reading skills can make strides with proper instruction,” Petrill said.
While other studies have shown that both genetics and environment influence reading skills, this is the first to show their relative roles in how quickly or slowly children’s reading skills improve over time.
The study participants were 314 Ohio twins participating in the Western Reserve Reading Project. This study included 135 identical twins and 179 same-sex fraternal twins…
Environmental factors include everything the children experience – how they are cared for by their parents, how much they are read to, the neighborhood they live in, nutrition and their instruction in schools, among other factors…
The findings showed that when children start out reading, both genetics and environment play a role in readings skills, depending on the skills assessed. For word and letter identification, genetics explained about one-third of the test results, while environment explained two-thirds. For vocabulary and sound awareness, it was equally split between genetics and environment. For the speed tests, it was three-quarters genetic.
But when the researchers measured growth in reading skills, environment became much more important, Petrill said.
The single best advantage my parents provided me and my sister was teaching each of us to read before either entered kindergarten. They provided us with the best habit for life – IMHO.