According to new research from the University of South Australia, which focused on early primary-aged kids who have experienced abuse or neglect, reading aloud to children can triple their resilience at school, especially for those most at-risk, both boys and girls.

"A good start to school is predictive of later outcomes, so it's vital that we not only identify those at risk early on but also find ways to support children's emotional, social and physical development before they start school," said lead researcher Professor Leonie Segal.

As a shared experience between parent (or carer) and child, reading out loud brings many beneficial outcomes for kids, encouraging bonding and contributing to their good development through letters, words, pictures, and stories. The study reveals that boys have a much higher risk of lagging behind their female peers, as well as those children living in rural areas or affected by physical, sensory, or learning disabilities. All these categories of kids need special attention and support.

So the first task of the education sector is to identify efficient methods to support boys, such as recruiting more male educators in early childhood and ensuring that their approaches are adapted to the specific needs of boys. Currently, male teachers represent less than 5% of the early childhood education workforce, while their presence in primary schools is also declining. Improving gender balance among educators should be a major measure to help young male students.

Picture: SAD Hortons Kids (Wikimedia Commons, w/Effects)