Environment is no less crucial than genetics in developing children’s reading skills, according to a new study appearing in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and summarized recently by Science Daily:
“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, [Ohio State University Professor of Human Development & Family Science Stephen] Petrill said.
“For reading skills that are taught, such as words and letters, the environment is almost completely responsible for growth. For awareness of sounds in reading, about 80 percent of growth was explained by the environment. Speed measures were the only ones where genetics still played a large role.
“‘Regardless of where children start as far as reading skills, and the impact that genetics and environment had on their initial skills, we found that their environment had an impact in how fast or how slowly those reading skills developed,’ Petrill said.”