Could this parenting hack boost your child’s reading skills?

Studies have revealed making one small change at home may help children improve their literacy.

Parents rejoice! According to a new study, sticking the little ones in front of the television may boost their reading skills, but only if the subtitles are turned on.

There’s even a campaign to get parents to Turn On The Subtitles (TOTS) gaining traction.

Oli Barrett MBE is behind the campaign and has said that studies across the world have shown that: ‘If you turn on the subtitles for children’s TV programmes (particularly between the ages of six and 10) it doubles their chance of becoming a proficient reader.’

Oli’s campaign began after he discovered the work of Brij Kothari, a professor at the Indian Institute of Management and founder of PlanetRead.

Inspired by Brij’s advice – ‘If you want to teach a nation to read: Just turn on the subtitles’ – Oli and his friend Henry Warren, who’s also behind TOTS, took evidence to the National Literacy Trust (NLT) to get their opinion on the issue.

NLT director Jonathan Douglas offered his support, saying: ‘The international evidence base suggesting that children respond well to having subtitles on when they’re watching television is compelling.

‘We would absolutely support automatic same-language subtitling on children’s TV programmes.’

Oli told the Manchester Evening News: ‘When I found out about the powerful link between subtitles and literacy, I couldn’t believe more hadn’t been done to join these dots here in the UK.

‘Henry Warren and I approached the National Literacy Trust and they were keen to partner with us.

‘We set off on the TOTS journey last month and see this as the beginning. Our job now is to share the idea with broadcasters, including the BBC.

‘Also with programme makers, politicians and parents. I’m confident that in time, children’s programmes will be subtitled by default. It’s such a simple change which can make a huge difference.’

Will you be turning on subtitles to improve your child’s reading skills? Head to our Facebook page and let us know in the comments.