/ PATHWAYS / Educational / Hazel's Journey to Independent Reading
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Games served as early exposure and motivational practice for reading for Hazel, starting with games designed intentionally to support reading skills for young children and eventually graduating into independent play with more general games that feature significant amounts of text.
Outcome Growing into a strong, independent reader.
This outcome arises from the following 5 milestones over the span of 4 years, from 3 - 7 years-old:
Age: 3-years-old / 01/01/2016 / 8 years ago
Play Styles: Child Watching Game (Onlooker Play), Child Plays Without Goals (Unoccupied Play) , Child and Parent Play Together (Cooperative Play) and Child Plays Independently (Independent Play)
Hazel was exposed to first games through tablet play, including Endless Alphabet on the iPad, as early as 8 months, but starting around 2 -3 years old, her play with Endless Alphabet grew more directed and she started to demonstrate a clearer understanding of the concept of letters, including remembering and imitating the sounds that letters make, letter names, and the ability to recognize shapes of the letters.
Activities: Hazel found that the following related activities worked alongside playing Endless Alphabet:
Age: 4-years-old / 01/01/2017 / 7 years ago
Hazel began to develop a stronger sense of words, how they relate to sentences and the ability to recognize some words on sight. At this age, most of her reading exposure was still adults reading books aloud to her. Most games she played did not feature much on-screen text. Endless Reader provided exposure to the spelling and meaning of a number of common words, showing those words in the context of written sentences.
Activities: Hazel found that the following related activities worked alongside playing Endless Reader:
Age: 6-years-old / 01/01/2019 / 5 years ago
Play Styles: Child Watching Game (Onlooker Play), Child and Parent Play Together (Cooperative Play) and Child Plays Independently (Independent Play)
Many of the games before this that Hazel played had little text, mostly voiced text, or text that could be largely ignored as she played. As she began playing Pokémon™: Let’s Go, Eevee!, much of the play initially was her watching a parent play, with the parent fully narrating the game. As she became familiar with the game, Hazel began to increasingly take on the role of the controlling player but still was dependent on a parent to read on-screen text. Due to the extent of the dialogue and the menus, this was initially necessary for her to enjoy the game. As she continued to play, she began to recognise some words and dialogue on sight. As sometimes she wanted to play when a parent was not available, she was motivated to recognise text enough to be able to play on her own but still preferred an adult companion to voice the dialogue moments.
Age: 6-years-old / 01/03/2019 / 5 years ago
Play Styles: Child Watching Game (Onlooker Play), Child Mimicking Game (Parallel Play), Child Helps Parent Play (Associative Play), Child and Parent Play Together (Cooperative Play) and Child Plays Independently (Independent Play)
Platform: Nintendo Switch
When Hazel started playing Stardew Valley initially, she was typically co-playing with a parent, who would play with her and do much of the reading in the game. As she became familiar with the game systems and comfortable making progress in the game on her own, she was motivated to play by herself, including reading character dialogue on her own and advancing the story elements of the game on her own without a parent reading the text out loud.
Age: 7-years-old / 01/03/2020 / 4 years ago
Play Styles: Child Watching Game (Onlooker Play), Child Plays Without Goals (Unoccupied Play) , Child Helps Parent Play (Associative Play), Child and Parent Play Together (Cooperative Play) and Child Plays Independently (Independent Play)
When Animal Crossing: New Horizons came out in March 2020, Hazel was starting to transition from needing to co-play console video games to being able to play them on her own. A big part of this transition was her reading level and reading confidence. Animal Crossing: New Horizons stands out as the game where she was able to learn much of the gameplay on her own while reading the on-screen text. Although the game does not provide voiced dialogue, the text is typically at a relatively low reading level and is chunked in approachable small bursts with high contextual interactions with characters. There is no time pressure and little in the way of irreversible or high-stakes interactions, so Hazel could take her time and skip over any parts she didn't yet understand without serious consequences to her game. A the same time, the game featured a lot of text interactions with other characters. This made the game a safe, quality space for her to practice reading and build confidence.
The culmination of the milestones in the pathway led to Hazel growing into a strong, independent reader. We have described it as a linear journey, but of course, there is always a fair amount of back and forth between the games they played.
Along with the main outcome Hazel also changed in the following ways:
We focus on how games contribute to this outcome, but also include related activities that play a part of this journey: