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Northmead Junior School

Northmead Junior School

May Reading Newsletter

Sleep and reading fluency. I recently read a very interesting article by Ross Morrison McGill of Teacher Toolkit, who summarised findings from a research paper with a very grand title: “Selective Inhibition of Mirror Invariance for Letter Consolidated by Sleep Doubles Reading fluency”

Mirror invariance refers to the ability to recognise letters regardless of their orientation (e.g., distinguishing between ‘b’ and ‘d’).

The findings of the research were, in simple terms:

Targeted training prevents mirror confusion for letter (b-d) in first graders and sleep boosts the magnitude, automaticity and duration of this learning. They found that if children slept following the training it doubled the reading fluency in the targeted group.

The researchers found that a specific type of brain activity during sleep, known as sleep spindles, plays a crucial role in consolidating letter recognition skills and improving reading fluency.

So what can we, as parents and teachers, take from this research?

Sleep can help consolidate learning, so good sleep routines for children help to develop their reading fluency and overall academic performance.

We should target our teaching and allow children time to practise identifying letters that are easily confused (distinguishing between ‘b’ and ‘d’ or ‘p’ and ‘q’).

Sleeping after targeted teaching is not possible in school (!) but perhaps taking part in reading activities before bedtime could take advantage of the brain’s consolidation processes during sleep.

If you want to read the scientific paper for yourself, click on the following link