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  • Dutch home-based pre-reading intervention with childrenat familial risk of dyslexia

    Sandra G. van Otterloo & Aryan van der Leij

    Received: 19 June 2008 /Accepted: 15 September 2009 /Published online: 7 November 2009# The Author(s) 2009. This article is published with open access at Springerlink.com

    Abstract Children (5 and 6 years old, n=30) at familial risk of dyslexia received a home-based intervention that focused on phoneme awareness and letter knowledge in the year priorto formal reading instruction. The children were compared to a no-training at-risk controlgroup (n=27), which was selected a year earlier. After training, we found a small effect on acomposite score of phoneme awareness (d=0.29) and a large effect on receptive letterknowledge (d=0.88). In first grade, however, this did not result in beneficial effects for theexperimental group in word reading and spelling. Results are compared to three formerintervention studies in The Netherlands and comparable studies from Denmark and Australia.

    Keywords Early intervention . Familial risk . Home-based intervention .

    Phoneme awareness . Reading disabilities

    Introduction

    Severe reading disability that cannot be explained by sensory deficits, attention deficits,general language problems, intelligence, poor home-literacy environment or poor educationis called developmental dyslexia (Snowling, 2000). Because literacy is essential to functionwell in modern society, it has been suggested that dyslexia should be diagnosed and treatedor even prevented early (Elbro & Scarborough, 2004b). All the more, as developmentaldyslexia can be very persistent and can easily lead to other problems, such as fear of failure.Because dyslexia runs in families (Finucci, Gottfredson, & Childs, 1985; Gilger,Pennington, & DeFries, 1991; Scarborough, 1990), it is possible to locate and treatchildren at risk of reading failure before formal reading instruction starts. In the currentstudy, the effects of early home-based intervention for children at higher familial risk areinvestigated. The intervention was based on phoneme awareness and letter knowledge andconducted in The Netherlands.

    Ann. of Dyslexia (2009) 59:169195DOI 10.1007/s11881-009-0030-0

    S. G. van Otterloo (*) :A. van der LeijDepartment of Education, University of Amsterdam, P.O. Box 94208, 1090GE Amsterdam,The Netherlandse-mail: S.G.vanOtterloo@uva.nl

  • Several intervention studies have indicated that young children could benefit fromphoneme awareness and letter knowledge training before the beginning of formal readinginstruction (e.g. Ball & Blachman, 1991; Bradley & Bryant 1985; Schneider, Roth, &Ennemoser, 2000). Note that these studies are all school-based, in contrast to the currentstudy that is home-based. Meta analyses (Bus & van IJzendoorn, 1999; Ehri, Nunes,Willows, Schuster, Yaghoub Zadeh, & Shanahan, 2001) showed large overall effect sizeson phoneme awareness measures (d=0.86 and d=1.04, respectively). The overall effects onreading skill were also evident but moderate (d=0.44 and d=0.53, respectively). At follow-ups, these effect sizes decline to some extent. Although most intervention studies focusedon normal children, some selected their sample out of a special at-risk population.Children at risk of developing reading difficulties were defined in several ways. Hatcher,Hulme, and Ellis (1994) selected 7-year old children experiencing difficulties in the earlystages of learning to read. OConnor, Jenkins, Leicester, and Slocum (1993) selectedpreschool children with developmental delays and Schneider and colleagues selectedkindergartners with low phonological processing scores.

    Six intervention studies selected kindergartners at familial risk of dyslexia (Elbro &Petersen, 2004; Eleveld, 2005; Fielding-Barnsley & Purdie, 2003; Hindson, Byrne,Fielding-Barnsley, Newman, Hine, & Shankweiler, 2005; Regtvoort & van der Leij,2007; van Otterloo, van der Leij, & Henrichs, 2009). These studies will be described inmore detail because they are directly related to the present study. Table 1 shows anoverview of relevant aspects of these six studies. The interventions in all six studies tookplace in the school year before formal reading instruction started. The experimentersselected preschoolers (Fielding-Barnsley and Purdie; Hindson et al.) or kindergartners(Elbro & Petersen; Eleveld; Regtvoort & van der Leij; van Otterloo et al.) with at least onerelative (Fielding-Barnsley and Purdie) or at least one parent (other five studies) with anestablished reading problem.

    Elbro and Petersen (2004) investigated the effects of a phoneme awareness and letterknowledge programme that was conducted at the schools of the children. The kindergartenteacher presented the programme to the whole class for about 30 min every school day for17 weeks. At post-test, the trained at-risk children outperformed the untrained at-riskchildren in phoneme awareness. Effect sizes were moderate (see Table 1). At follow-ups atthe beginning of second and third grade, the trained at-risk children outperformed theuntrained at-risk children on all reading measures.

    Fielding-Barnsley and Purdie (2003) used an intervention of 8 weeks based on dialogicreading, a method for structured book reading (see Whitehurst, Arnold, Epstein, Angell,Smith, & Fischel, 1994) in the year prior to formal reading. The programme also includedrhyme, vocabulary and concepts about print. During these weeks, parents read eight booksabout six to seven times with use of the dialogic reading method. Although the interventionis quite different compared to the intervention of the current study, we included the study inTable 1 as the sample was comparable and the intervention was home-based. The 26experimental children were compared to 23 at-risk children selected at the same schools. Atpost-test at the beginning of first grade, the experimental children outperformed the controlchildren on pre-reading measures and, at follow-up, a few months later on reading andspelling measures. The researchers concluded that the intervention is advantageous forchildren at risk of developing a reading disability. However, the comparison betweengroups did not include pre-test scores.

    Hindson et al. (2005) made use of a training programme that focused primarily onphoneme awareness and letter knowledge and also included dialogic reading. The trainingsessions were held individually at preschool or at home once a week by a trained assistant

    170 S.G. van Otterloo, A. van der Leij

  • Table1

    Aspectsof

    interventionstudieswith

    childrenatfamilialrisk

    ofdyslexia

    Aspects

    Interventionstudies

    Elbro

    &Petersen

    2004

    Fielding-Barnsley&

    Purdie2003

    aHindson

    etal.2005

    Eleveld

    2005

    bRegtvoortand

    vanderLeij2007

    vanOtterloo

    etal.2009

    Language

    Danish

    AustralianEnglish

    AustralianEnglish

    Dutch

    Dutch

    Dutch

    nat-riskexpgroup

    3526

    69E1:21

    E2:

    25(Etot:46)

    3123

    nat-riskcontrolgroup

    4723

    1771

    2625

    Content

    ofintervention

    PA,LK

    Rhyme,vocabulary,CAP,

    Dialogicreading

    PA,LK,Dialogicreading

    E1:PA

    ,LK,Serialnaming

    speed

    PA,LK

    PA,LK

    Trainer

    Kindergarten

    teacher

    Parent

    Trained

    assistant

    Trained

    assistant

    Parent

    Parent

    Individually

    orwholeclass

    Wholeclass

    Individually

    Individually

    Individually

    Individually;computerised

    Individually

    Num

    berof

    sessions

    Max.85

    About

    4011

    to17

    About

    30Max.70

    Max.50

    Trainingtim

    epersession

    About

    30min

    Not

    given(dialogicreading

    of1or

    2books)

    About

    30min

    2030min

    About

    10min

    About

    10min

    Totaltraining

    time

    42h30

    min

    Not

    given(reading

    8books

    6,5tim

    esduring

    8weeks)

    5h30

    min8

    h30

    min

    E1:

    12h30

    min

    E2:

    25h

    11h40

    min

    8h20

    min

    M(SD)pre-testscoreon

    LKcat-riskchildren

    5.8(5.7)

    Nopre-test

    10.0

    (5.6)

    13.0

    (7.1)

    12.8

    (6.6)

    12.6

    (6.4)

    Interactiontim

    econdition

    onLK

    atpost-test

    d=0.67

    Not

    possibleto

    test

    interaction.

    Eoutperform

    sC

    Noeffect

    Etot-C:d=0.41

    d=1.19

    d=0.27

    (ns)

    Interactiontim

    econdition

    onPA

    atpost-test

    d=0.47

    to0.54

    Not

    possibleto

    test

    interaction.

    Eoutperform

    sC

    Significant

    effectforphonem

    eidentity.Effectsize

    notgiven

    Etot-C:d=0.41

    d=0.59

    d=0.23

    to0.89

    Transfereffectson

    reading

    andspellingayear

    later

    d=0.40

    to0.69

    Exp

    outperform

    sControlson

    readingandspelling

    Not

    given

    Nosignificanttransfer

    effectson

    readingor

    spelling

    Nosignificanttransfer

    effectson

    readingor

    spelling

    d=0.31

    to0.63

    (ns)

    PAphonem

    eaw

    areness,LKletterknow

    ledge,

    RIreadinginstruction,

    CAPconceptsaboutprint

    aNorealcomparisonbetweengroups

    ispossiblebecauseof

    theabsenceof

    apre-test

    bEleveld

    hadtwoexperimentalgroups:E1isbestcomparablewith

    theotherstudies.E2received

    anextratraining

    ayear

    ahead.

    Atpost-testresults

    ofcombinedexperimental

    group(Etot)arepresented

    cElbro

    andPete