New studies have found that virtual classrooms with other students can develop key reading skills in children. The study was published in ‘Frontiers in Human Neuroscience’, journal.
According to the researchers, not only did the “Reading Camp” program demonstrate the effectiveness of the approach but also the potential to reach larger numbers of students remotely, by choice or by necessity.
The faculty author Patricia Kuhl, co-director of I-LABS and a UW professor of speech and hearing sciences said that children are ready to learn even at the age of 5 by the pandemic robbed them of the opportunity for in-person reading instruction. The online Reading Camp is designed to promote learning that works phenomenally well and can be used all over the world by children anywhere. It is a two-week detailed reading program that the teachers provided remotely to 83 5-year-olds at the beginning of fall 2020.
According to the study, the participants demonstrated learning specific reading skills like letter-sound knowledge and phonological awareness, compared to a control group of children who did not receive the instruction.
Researchers had decided to adopt the in-person Reading Camp into an online version over Zoom, during the pandemic in the spring of 2020. The researchers had mailed parents a kit of materials, ahead of the remote camp that included worksheets, headphones and books, along with Play-Doh, toys and other fun items that would be used in the lessons. The Reading Camp had grouped children into six-person classrooms, each having two instructors that are trained in the specific skills lessons, where the sessions lasted for three hours a day, with several breaks.
Short lessons were broken up into activities and ended with storytime and the classrooms too were broken into even smaller, three-student breakout rooms each with a teacher to focus the lessons and games.
Several standardized and non-standardized tests of children in both Reading Camp and control groups were taken to assess their knowledge of letters, sounds and words and the results showed that the Reading Camp participants improved in all of the reading skills measured, and their phonological awareness and knowledge of lowercase letters and sounds, particularly more than the control group children.