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Research from the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences has found that young children can learn key reading skills in virtual learning environments alongside other children their age. The study consisted of a reading programme that lasted two weeks in an online reading camp, with 83 5-year-old children taking part in the study, and a control group of 33 children who did not take part. The reading programmes took place over Zoom, and any extra materials, such as headphones, worksheets, books or Play-Doh were sent to parents in advance. Sessions consisted of groups of six, with breaks between activities or reading time. Children in both the reading camp and control groups took standardised and non-standardised tests to understand their knowledge of letters, sounds and words. Those in the reading camp displayed improved scores in all reading skills as well as phonological awareness and knowledge of lowercase letters and sounds to a greater degree than the control group. Further studies are planned which will include brain scans before and after the study to see how this kind of learning can impact brain development. Read more here.

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