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Archive for the ‘Language and Literacy’ Category

Four Steps to Creating a Beautiful Children’s Library in Your Home

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When it comes to your home, every child’s personal library should be a happy place to retreat to. Refreshing your child’s library space isn’t a lengthy process, and it can be done quickly. If your child’s library is collecting dust or is simply needing a makeover, try these four tips to start building a beautiful children’s library right in your own home.

Clean out the clutter. A fresh start is often the best way to inspire a new vibe to your reading area at home. Remove all the books from the shelf and start to sift through them. Divide the books into two piles, books your children read often and ones they do not read often. You can toss out the books your children have outgrown or never touched; put them in a bag and donate them or give them to family or friends.

Always add new books to your children’s collection. Board books, concept books, fairy tales, picture books, rhythmic books and early readers. Figure out what you don’t have and explore from there. Make sure you have an assortment of various books so you can build a multifaceted collection for your children. Try to incorporate pieces that have a range of difficulty levels, an assortment of genres and a diversity of cultures and authors. In this way, when one of your children is in the mood for a different type of book to read, there will be many options.

Make their library fun and inviting with a warm atmosphere. Consider relocating the library to a place where it will get the most use. Whether it’s in their bedroom, playroom or family room, you want your children to be able to feel they can easily access their home library and stay a while. Motivate them to search and grab by putting books low on the shelf or at their eye level so they can take books easily and often. Don’t forget to create a reading nook with a comfy chair, bean bag or a soft rug for an inviting space for them to lounge and hang out once they have found books to delve into.

Continue to nurture the collection and reading space. As your children grow, continue to keep their library relevant, up to date and aesthetically pleasing. Clean out and add new books as their interests and reading levels change over time. Continue to add to their collection. Don’t be afraid to swap out old furniture, artwork and decor to keep them interested and curious. You always want to keep them fascinated about exploring their space. Sometimes rearranging and adding a few great books is all that’s needed.

How to Take Advantage of Your Neighborhood Library

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Did you know that your local library is a hidden gem right in your backyard? Nowadays, it’s not just a place you go to check out a book or use a computer – it’s so much more. March is National Reading Month and we are celebrating with sharing four ways to take advantage of your local library.

Attend events and programs. Looking to attend a mindfulness meditation yoga class or join a cooking club? Libraries offer so many fun (and free!) options for children and parents. Get involved with fitness groups for children and adults, family music classes, parent-child workshops, story circles, puppet shows, special events and summer programs. Look into what your local library provides and what events they are having in your community.

Use it as a resource for learning. Your local library is a helpful resource that’s available whenever you need it. Many libraries offer tutoring, reading buddies, writing circles and volunteer opportunities. Your child can use the library as a fun way to get involved socially and academically. The staff and the librarian can also be helping hands when you have questions or when you simply need a new book recommendation.

Explore the aisles and stay a while. Many libraries have cozy and colorful sections for children, filled to the brim with books, electronics, games, toys and puzzles. This space is great for sparking your children’s curiosity and getting them stimulated, engaged and ready to learn. Get your children comfortable with going to the library, and teach them that this is their space to have fun with and utilize as a resource. Help them pick out a book, and let them explore from there.

Make it a habit to go often. With a bunch of great opportunities and events provided by your library, you can turn your outing to the library into a fun adventure for your little ones. By creating a routine, soon they will be looking forward to their weekly time spent at the library. Remember to sign up for a library card to make checking out items easier, and so you can have access to other countless privileges and perks that may be associated with your local library.

Science Says *This* Surprising Trait Will Help Your Kid Succeed in School

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We all know kids who started reading (as in full books) at 18 months. Others had the gross motor skills to ditch their training wheels at four. One friend’s son plays Mozart on the piano and devours Harry Potter books. (He’s six.) And while all of these achievements are amazing—and debatably innate as opposed to parent-directed—they’re not necessarily concrete predictors of academic success. Want to know what is? Curiosity.

For a new study conducted at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, pediatricians with expertise in developmental behavior analyzed data collected from 6,200 children over the course of their lives, from nine months old through kindergarten. They conclusively found that “greater curiosity was associated with greater kindergarten reading and math academic achievement.” Regardless of gender or socioeconomic background, added the researchers, “Curiosity may be an important, yet under-recognized contributor to academic achievement. Fostering curiosity may optimize academic achievement at kindergarten.”

Interestingly, the kids’ efforts and their ability to sit still and listen in class had less to do with academic success than you might guess. (PSA to the parents of kids who run around like crazy during circle time: Now is your cue to rejoice.) Explains Science Daily: “U-M researchers factored in another important known contributor to academic achievement known as ‘effortful control,’ or the ability to stay focused in class. They found that even independent of those skills, children who were identified as curious fared well in math and reading.” Clarifies lead researcher Dr. Prachi Shah: “These findings suggest that even if a child manifests low effortful control [or in-classroom focus], they can still have more optimal academic achievement, if they have high curiosity.”

So the next time your kid fires off “why?” faster than you could possibly formulate answers (Why is the sky blue? Why do dogs sweat from their tongues? Why do I have two eyes instead of one? What are s’mores? Can I have one? Can I have 10? Why?), celebrate it like the sign of genius it surely is. Then take them to a museum or library to investigate, stat. Curiosity! It won’t kill cats. And it just may land your kid on the honor roll.

RELATED: The One Thing This Mom Does to Cross Items Off Her To-Do List

 

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Easy Ways to Expand Your Toddler’s Vocabulary

From baby talk to reading aloud during infancy to walking around the house pointing at and describing inanimate objects (“Look! Mommy’s coffeeeeee”), there is almost nothing you can do that won’t help a baby develop speech. Still, for proactive parents looking to expedite the process—or anyone worried about a speech delay—we asked speech pathologist and pediatric social communication expert Kelly Lelonek for tips on how to recognize a need for early intervention or simply enhance childrens’ language skills. A precocious chatterbox on the first day of nursery school? Now you’re talking.

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Q) What’s the age that kids should typically be moving from one-word utterances to two?

 A) Most children start to combine words between 18 and 24 months. They start to use two- and three-word combinations (“Pet the bunny” or “Wow, big dog!”) around this age. By 24 months, most children use between 50 and 200 words.

Q) Does birth order impact on how fast or slow a child may be to speak? 

The effect of a child’s birth order on emerging language is still under debate. There is no evidence of language delays being seen more often in later-born children. Birth order likely creates different language learning environments for each child, none of which are detrimental.

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Q) Without being alarmist, what could be some of the reasons a child’s speech isn’t “exploding” between 18 months and two years? 

Developmental speech and language disorder is a common reason for speech and language delays in children. A child’s hearing should always be tested. Intellectual disability could also cause speech and language delays. [Ask your pediatrician for a referral to an early interventionist if you suspect any of this is at play.]

Q) What are some of the easiest ways parents can improve their kids’ vocabularies and help them express longer, more complex thoughts?

First, a parent should determine what is missing in the child’s vocabulary. A child must have 50-plus words before they will start to combine them. Check to see if your child has nouns, verbs, adjectives, possessives, negatives and question words. Then, use the strategy of “expansion.” This is when you take the words your child says, repeat them, then add a missing word. For example, the child says “Dog” and you repeat back, “Big dog.” You can do this multiple times and add different words each time. A parent’s goal should be to help the child reach just the next level of complexity.

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Q) When is the ideal time to “work” on this?

During bath time, feeding time, while reading books or playing. Really, anytime throughout the day!

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

The Easy Way Busy Parents Can Boost Their Kid’s Language Skills

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It’s not just talking to them a lot.

When teaching kids language skills, it makes sense to expose them to as many words as possible through lots and lots of talking. However, a new study found a strategy that may be even more effective.

Research published in the journal Psychological Science suggests that back-and-forth conversations make more of an impact in developing Broca’s area, the region of the brain most closely associated with speech, than teaching kids many words, Scientific American reports.

The study, led by John Gabrieli, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, involved 36 children, ages 4 to 6, from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds. Researchers first used standardized tests to evaluate the children’s verbal ability, then evaluated kids’ brains using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while the child listened to 15-second stories. Finally, they examined the communication at home between adults and kids for two days, measuring adult and child speech, and back-and-forth verbal exchanges separated by no more than five seconds, called “conversational turns.”

During the experiments, researchers found that a child’s verbal ability score increased by one point with every additional 11 conversational turns per hour.

For Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek, Psy.D., the director of the Infant Language Laboratory at Temple University, who was not involved in the study, the new findings provide a much-needed missing link in our understanding of language and learning. Dr. Hirsh-Pasek tells Scientific American, “We have known for quite a while that conversational turns—or what in my work we call conversational duets—are very important for building a foundation for language and maybe for learning generally. What hadn’t been done is to link it where we knew it had to be linked—to changes in the brain.”

The research confirms that parents should do do more than just babble at kids; it’s also about connecting with them and encouraging them to engage. “If we learn better how to follow the eyes of our child and comment on what they are looking at, we will have strong language learners,” Hirsh-Pasek says. “And language is the single-best predictor of school readiness—in math, social skills and reading skills. It is the foundation for learning.”

According to Scientific American, the findings confirm the conclusion of several studies suggesting that socioeconomic status is related to the number of words a child learns in their developing years, namely that there is a 30-million-word gap between the poorest and the richest children. The study is also noteworthy because it indicates that conversational turns have a stronger correlation to the development of Broca’s area than a child’s socioeconomic status.

It may be good news for busy working parents. Instead of drilling your kids with tedious flashcards to improve their vocabulary, have a fun and meaningful conversation instead.

 

This article was written by Maria Zaldivar from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

17 Children’s Books To Read To Your Kids In Honor Of Women’s History Month

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Celebrate Women’s History Month during family reading time with the books below.

Penguin Random House/Little Brown Young Readers

March marks Women’s History Month, and if you’re looking for a way to celebrate the many accomplishments of women with your family (little ones included), children’s books can offer a fun and informative history lesson.

Of course, a month isn’t nearly enough time to celebrate all that women have done in science, sports, and other fields, so you’ll want to keep these titles handy all year. Here are 17 kids’ books inspired by trailblazing women. 

“Rad American Women A-Z”

City Lights

The title sums this book up. Following the alphabet, kids can learn about the many women, including Billie Jean King and Angela Davis, who made great contributions to American history. (By Kate Schatz, illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl)

“Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?”


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Square Fish Books/Macmillan

Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? tells the story of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to receive a medical degree in the U.S. Author Tanya Lee Stone is also the mind behind Who Says Women Can’t Be Computer Programmers? (Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman)

“Are You An Echo?”


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Chin Music Press

Are You An Echo? weaves the work of Japanese poet Misuzu Kaneko with her life story in a bilingual book. (Illustrated by Toshikado Hajiri, text and translation by David Jacobson, Sally Ito, and Michiko Tsuboi) 

“Women In Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed The World”


Penguin Random House

Kids interested in STEM (and even those who aren’t) will love reading about the many women, including primatologist Jane Goodall and mathematician Katherine Johnson, who made their mark on several different scientific fields. (Written and illustrated by Rachel Ignotofsky)

“Buffalo Bird Girl: A Hidatsa Story”


Abrams Books for Young Readers

In this picture book, author and illustrator S.D. Nelson, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in the Dakotas, shares with kids the story of Buffalo Bird Girl, a Hidatsa Indian who lived during the 1800s.

“Here Come the Girl Scouts!”


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Scholastic

Shana Corey shares the history of the Girl Scouts and the organization’s founder, Juliette Gordon Low. (Illustrated by Hadley Hooper)

“Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed The World”


HarperCollins

This book includes the stories of women who made their mark on the world early on. It features Ruby Bridges, the inspiring 6-year-old who helped desegregate an all-white school in the South, and Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space. The book, as noted on the cover, is “illustrated by 13 extraordinary women.” (By Susan Hood)

“Dolores Huerta: A Hero To Migrant Workers”


Two Lions/Amazon Children’s Publishing

In this book by Sarah Warren, labor activist and civil rights icon Dolores Huerta takes the center stage. (Illustrated by Robert Casilla)

“The Youngest Marcher”


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Simon & Schuster

In The Youngest Marcher, kids will meet Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Civil Rights activist who taught the world you’re never too young to make a difference. (By Cynthia Levinson, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton)

“Frida Kahlo”


Lincoln Children’s Books/Quarto Group

This book teaches kids about the life of artist Frida Kahlo, and is part of the “Little People, Big Dreams” series, which highlights extraordinary women. (By Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara, illustrated by Gee Fan Eng)

“Shark Lady”


Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Shark Lady includes a title many kids will love as well as the story of Eugenie Clark, a famous marine biologist who adored sharks and their fellow friends under the sea. The title comes from the nickname Clark earned for her work. (By Jess Keating, illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns)

“Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls”


Timbuktu Labs

Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls is a wildly popular book that started as a Kickstarter project and is filled with stories of trailblazing women paired with illustrations from women artists. Timbuktu Labs released the second volume last year.

“Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker”


Chronicle Books

Kids can learn about Josephine Baker, an African-American singer, dancer, and Civil Rights activist, in this picture book written by Patricia Hruby Powell and illustrated by Christian Robinson.

“Malala’s Magic Pencil”


Little, Brown Young Readers

Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani activist for girls education and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, tells her own story in Malala’s Magic Pencil. (Illustrated by Kerascoët, a joint pen name for Sébastien Cosset and Marie Pommepuy)

“Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History”


Little, Brown Young Readers

Little Leaders informs kids about black history and the women who made it, including abolitionist Sojourner Truth and poet Maya Angelou. (Written and illustrated by Vashti Harrison)

“Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909”


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HarperCollins

Brave Girl tells the story of Clara Lemlich, a leader of the women’s labor movement who helped guide the Uprising of the 20,000 shirtwaist workers strike that began in 1909. (By Michelle Markel, illustrated by Melissa Sweet)

“Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows In The Bronx/La Juez Que Creció En El Bronx”


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Simon & Schuster

This bilingual book shows kids how Sonia Sotomayor persevered to become the first Hispanic U.S. Supreme Court justice. (By Jonah Winter, illustrated by Edel Rodriguez)

 

 

This article was written by Taylor Pittman from Huffington Post and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

National Reading Month

Encourage your child to read a little more at this time of year to celebrate National Reading Month. Children’s imaginations are stimulated by reading about fictitious characters and magical worlds. Whether your little learner is interested in cars and trains or wicked witches and goblins, you can find books about any topic; if you can’t find one, create your own.

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Another great way to celebrate this month is by writing your own story with your child and then reading it aloud with her. Here’s a template to help you and your little one get started creating her very own story. Talk with her about what each highlighted word means and watch her mind come up with a word to fill in the blank.

Once upon a time, there was a(n) ­­­­­animal named, boy’s name. He is number years old and lives in place. Same boy’s name and his friend Sam get together every day of the week and take a walk in the place. The two friends laugh and play fun activity together until it is time to go home. When the day is over, same boy’s name goes home to eat type of food for dinner, with his family. After dinner, he sits in his color chair and reads favorite bedtime story with his family. The End.

Jogging Memories with a Journal

As your children begin to learn to write, encourage them to keep a journal. This practice will enhance their arithmetic skills while allowing them to create memories from their childhood. Many of us might not have clear memories of when we were young. By encouraging your little ones to record their favorite remembrances and exciting milestones, they will have pages of memories on which to reminisce.

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Begin by asking your children to write a great, funny or inspiring thing that happens to them each day. Doing this will also boost their moods by noting uplifting things that are surfacing in their lives.

Five Benefits of Learning Foreign Languages

1. It develops the ability to sympathize with others. Once we understand how difficult it can be to learn a second language, we begin to see how people who come to America knowing very little English must Feeling empathy encourages our little ones to develop patience at an early age.

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2. It inspires interest in other cultures. It’s natural for children to want to understand more about the people who speak the language they are learning. Learning the language will increase your child’s ability to retain information about the cultures and customs of the people who speak that language.

3. It provides a great opportunity for career advancement in the future. In many career paths, knowing more than one language creates more opportunity for job positions. Incorporating a foreign language at this young age will increase your child’s ability to retain the second language.

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4. It enriches travel experiences. If your family loves to travel, learning the language of the country where you visit will enhance your experience. You will be able to interact more easily with the people who live there. Encourage your little one to find a pen-pal from a different culture.

5. It develops awareness of tone in music. When children hear tonal foreign language sounds, it increases their ability to understand music pitches, especially with Mandarin (a language spoken in China). Your little one will not only be well-versed in a foreign language but in music as well.

What languages are your children learning?

Teaching Children a Foreign Language

Learning language is a natural process when children are young. Introducing them to second languages such as Spanish, SigningFrench and American Sign Language (ASL) encourages brain development. The earlier a child is exposed to another language, the greater the likelihood is that the child will become fluent in the language.

Second languages also help celebrate cultural diversity and create an understanding of the written word. A second language can unleash a child’s curiosity.

The sooner a child is introduced to a second language, the more success he will have in learning the language. Following are some age-appropriate activities to help you incorporate a second language into your baby’s daily routine.

Infant to 12 months

  • Sign as you say words;
  • Use one-word signs, like more, mom, dad, ball or cup;
  • Gently move your child’s hands to make a sign;
  • Play music in the target language.

12 to 18 months

  • Add to your child’s signing vocabulary;
  • Use signs with verbal cues;
  • Say both the English word and the target language word for an object;
  • Practice the target language while playing ball. As you roll the ball to your child, you could say, “Here comes the red ball, la pelota roja”;
  • Use the target language words interchangeably in your own speech;
  • Name body parts, animals and colors in the target language.