Do family learning phonics courses improve parents’ reading-related skills and ability to support their children’s reading?


Background: Parents play a crucial role in supporting children’s literacy, especially in the first years of school. However, parents can find this challenging if they struggle with reading themselves. We explore whether family learning phonics courses boost parents’ reading-related skills and ability to support their children’s reading, in a collaboration between UK academics and the National Family Learning Forum. Methods: Prior to data collection, academics and course leaders identified key skills for courses to target: phonological awareness, letter-sounds, segmenting and blending, and awareness of irregular words. Family learning teams recruited parents of Reception children (aged 4-5 years old) for the Phonics group (N = 50), targeting parents who were likely to need literacy support. Parents received six weeks of one- to two-hour phonics sessions in groups. Control participants (N = 76) were recruited online and had a Reception-age child (4-5 years old); controls received no training. All participants completed phonics-related tests at weeks one and six. Results The Phonics group significantly improved on letter-sound knowledge (by 4.64 letters; 51 total items); the Control group did not significantly improve on this measure. Both groups showed some improvement in phonological awareness and word reading (likely due to practice effects), and neither group improved on nonword reading. The reading questionnaire showed that the Phonics group reported giving their children more regular support with literacy activities and placed a higher level of importance on homework, with no increase for the Control group. Conclusions: We provide evidence that family learning phonics courses can improve crucial reading skills (letter-sound knowledge) and increase parents’ confidence to support their children’s reading. Some reading skills (phonological awareness, whole word reading, and decoding) may be slower to change and require longer-term support. Future work should explore long-term consequences of such courses for parents’ and their children’s reading habits and skills.

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Divisions: College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Psychology
College of Health & Life Sciences > Aston Institute of Health & Neurodevelopment (AIHN)
College of Health & Life Sciences > Clinical and Systems Neuroscience
College of Health & Life Sciences
Additional Information: © 2022 The Authors. Journal of Research in Reading published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of United Kingdom Literacy Association. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Funding: This research was supported by a British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Small ResearchGrant awarded to Dr. J.S.H. Taylor (GrantNumber(s): SRG18R1\180339). Dr. Hulme was supported by a fellowship funded byAston University.
Uncontrolled Keywords: child literacy,family learning,parent literacy,phonics,Education,Developmental and Educational Psychology,Psychology (miscellaneous)
Publication ISSN: 0141-0423
Last Modified: 27 May 2024 07:36
Date Deposited: 16 May 2022 10:46
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Related URLs: https://onlinel ... 1467-9817.12377 (Publisher URL) (Related URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2022-08
Published Online Date: 2022-02-28
Accepted Date: 2021-10-15
Authors: Hulme, Rachael
Webber, Charlotte
Fox, Amy
Ricketts, Jessie
Shapiro, Laura (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-3276-457X)
Taylor, Jo



Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

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