Research Round Up – March 2019
Since October 2018, there have been several key reports:
Early Intervention Foundation Key competencies in early cognitive development: Things, people, numbers and words (December 2018)
Building on two recent EIF reviews, Foundations for Life and Language as a child well-being indicator, this report reiterates the importance of children’s early language, and adds three other competencies associated with future success: understanding of objects, people and numbers. It identifies factors which support their development or which place them at risk.
Health and social care committee First 1000 days of life (February 2019)
This report draws on evidence in the First 1,000 days inquiry, and on the extensive evidence base. It makes strong recommendations which align very closely to those articulated in the Bercow: Ten Years On review regarding a cross-Government strategy and outlines six principles for high-quality local services.
Non-statutory advice from the Department for Education, aiming to help schools support pupils whose mental health problems manifest themselves in behaviour. Communication difficulties are identified as a risk factor for mental health difficulties in children, whilst good communication is recognised as a protective factor.
Department for Education – Improving the educational outcomes of Children in Need of help and protection: Interim findings (December 2018)
This report draws on qualitative evidence to explore the experience of children in need: looked after children, those on children in need or child protection plans and children with a disability. It looks at why children in need fall behind, providing key points for action. It considers behaviour as a form of communication, identifying speech and language difficulties as a contributing factor to behaviour difficulties.
Department for Education – Early Career CPD: exploratory research Research report November 2018
A survey of the development needs amongst teachers in their early careers and effective practice in supporting and meeting these needs. Main development priorities at the start of teachers’ induction year included: behaviour management; use and understanding of assessment; pedagogical knowledge; and supporting pupils with particular needs, such as pupils with special educational needs and disability (SEND).
Closing the attainment gap Sutton Trust February 2019
This report points out the gap between children in disadvantaged areas compared with their peers, citing early language as a key area and pointing out that this continues throughout schooling. It includes a map showing the regional variation which exists in GCSE performance. It highlights potential factors: the amount of collaboration across areas, financial, teacher recruitment/retention, the role of early years. It then makes recommendations in each of these areas.
Some highlights from recent academic research papers:
Teaching for breadth and depth of vocabulary knowledge: Learning from explicit and implicit instruction and the storybook texts Dickinson et al (2019) Early Childhood Research Quarterly
This study compared different approaches to shared storybook reading in pre-school children. It found that by explicitly teaching vocabulary through sharing stories and by repeating new words during story time, teachers can build depth and breadth of vocabulary knowledge.
A randomized controlled trial of an oral inferential comprehension intervention for young children with developmental language disorder Dawes et al (2018) Child Language Teaching and Therapy
An intervention helping children aged 5-6 years with developmental language disorder (DLD) significantly improved their ability to work out meanings in stories.
Parents’ Experiences of Completing Home Practice for Speech Sound Disorders Sugden et al (2019)
This study explored parents’ experiences of completing home practice for children with speech sound disorders. Home practice is important and gets easier over time but getting roles sorted out and managing logistic challenges are important.
Mathematical thinking in children with developmental language disorder: The roles of pattern skills and verbal working memory Fyfe et al (2019) Journal of Communication Disorders
This study investigated two factors – working memory and pattern skills (predicting what comes next in visual pattern) – that may underlie the poor mathematical performance of children aged 6-13 with language disorder. Verbal working memory is particularly important.
Vocabulary Development and Trajectories of Behavioral and Emotional Difficulties Via Academic Ability and Peer Problems Westrupp et al (2019) Child Development
This study found that low vocabulary scores when younger were associated with later problems with attention/hyperactivity, conduct problems and emotional symptoms. Through analysis, they found that a key factor in this relationship was children’s literacy ability.
A systematic review of studies over the last 40 years looking at parents reading to children. Early book reading is powerful throughout the preschool period particularly for receptive language development: It’s effective for children over three years of age and slightly more effective with more socially disadvantaged children.
What influences vocabulary? Analysis of the millennium cohort survey age 14 data
This briefing highlights the importance of vocabulary in literacy and learning. It looks at the factors predicting teenager’s vocabulary. Important factors were parents’ level of education, parents own vocabulary levels, the amount of reading 14-year-olds do and the number of books in homes.