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Posts Tagged ‘Literacy’

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.

Language and Literacy Series: Reclaiming the Joy of Reading in the Age of Distraction

Susan Magsamen is the Senior Vice President of Early Learning at global learning company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt She is a member of the Educational Advisory Board for The Goddard School and senior advisor to The Science of Learning Institute and Brain Science Institute at Johns Hopkins University. This piece was originally published on HMH’s blog

My own love of reading was cultivated in an era with fewer distractions than today. At that time, all of our play was physical and concrete – we played with hands-on toys and games, we rode bicycles and played outside (which held opportunities for all sorts of mischief). I recall putting on plays, having visceral experiences with art supplies, some television, and boys readinglots of books. Reading offered both privacy and companionship, an opportunity to focus and contemplate, but also indulge the imagination.

I realize now that there was a special kind of innocence wrapped up in these memories. During my own childhood, distraction was the murmur of the radio or television, or the sight of something fleeting that simply “caught your eye.” Things are different today. Adults and children are caught in a blizzard of digital noise streaming from various devices that constantly compete for our attention, disrupting our focus. There is no doubt that this new reality has impacted the way we read and engage with books.

Daniel Goleman, a psychologist best known for spotlighting emotional intelligence, has noted that the deluge of distractions can have far-reaching effects. Speaking to KQED’s Forum, he explained “because attention is under siege more than it has ever been in human history, [and] we have more distractions than ever before, we have to be more focused on cultivating the skills of attention.”

According to Goleman, the neural circuitry that registers attention in the prefrontal cortex of the brain is identical to the circuits that govern executive functioning, which includes the ability to manage distressing emotions and to feel empathy.

Medical research has identified clinical conditions that may interfere with a child’s ability to focus, but to tackle real-world distractions, there are things we can do at home and in the classroom to minimize the noise and create an environment conducive to experiencing the magic of reading.

With this in mind, what can we do to foster a love of reading in our children that stems simply from the sheer pleasure and joy that a great story provides?

Here are five easy ways to create a distraction-free reading zone for kids.

  1. Create a Dedicated Reading Space: Create a reading environment free of clutter. The fewer objects that can capture your child’s attention, the better.
  2. Get Comfy: Have a comfortable chair or cushion for children and adult readers to sit on. The physical comfort helps kids relax their bodies, which in turn facilitates attention and focus.
  3. Start a Reading Ritual: Ritualize the opportunity to read. For very young children, the ritual of a bedtime story is the enchanting portico that leads to more reading. Consecrating the event early on acknowledges that reading time is special, even as children get older and read on their own. Having a special hat to wear or a pillow to sit on just for reading designates that reading time is distinct from other activities.
  4. Take Time to Share: Give your child ample opportunity to share what they have read. Remember, a joy shared is doubled! Ask some simple questions about your child’s reading experience to encourage engagement: Who was your favorite character? What did you like about the story? How did the book make you feel?
  5. Be a Reading Role Model: Model a love of reading. Whether you show your kids the stack of books on your night table, or point out how much you love to read the newspaper with your morning coffee, highlighting the ways that reading enriches your life will help them understand the importance and enjoyment of literacy.

It is important for adults to find some quiet space amidst the distractions as well. I heard a story the other day that offered a vivid reminder of this concept: A four-year-old girl learned how to make the color green in school, mixing yellow and blue paints to create a series of green hues. With carbonated excitement, she couldn’t wait to show her father. But when he came home, he was concentrating on his cell phone. He finished a call and then began to text. The child’s efforts to capture his attention were futile until, with her art work in one hand, she gave a good, hard tug on the leg of his pants. Her father then looked down and said, “Sara, what are you doing down there?” To which she replied, “Daddy, I live down here.”

To create an environment that is conducive to concentration, young children need our undivided attention. By finding and nurturing those simple moments of focus, we can enjoy “living” in our children’s worlds and be present as they share in ours.

Language and Literacy Series: Talking with our Hands – A Hidden Key to Learning!

Susan Magsamen is the Senior Vice President of Early Learning at global learning company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt She is a member of the Educational Advisory Board for the Goddard School and senior advisor to The Science of Learning Institute and Brain Science Institute at Johns Hopkins University.  This piece was originally published on HMH’s blog.

It just amazes me the way newborn babies come into the world as natural communicators. After their first wail, they exhibit an increasing variety of gestures and sounds; quickly becoming full-bodied, kinesthetic communicators, successfully letting us know their needs and desires through a barrage of gestures and gesticulations.

Throughout his/her early growth spurts, a young child’s gesture vocabulary expands in complex and Handsfascinating ways.  Children begin with what is called deictic gestures (pointing at actual objects), and metaphoric gestures (movements in space to represent an abstract idea, such as gesturing upward to indicate “high”).  Then, as their use of language and vocabulary become more fluid, they begin to slowly connect words to objects and abstract thoughts.  Little ones form a fully integrated relationship between gestures and words as they grow from toddlers to preschoolers. This relationship with language will continue to be refined throughout life.

Recent research in language acquisition has revealed just how important gestures are in supporting word acquisition, as well as in other learning areas, including math.  The Goldin-Meadow Laboratory at the University of Chicago, headed by Susan Goldin-Meadow, is an important research hub for the exploration of the role and value of gestures. The lab focuses on topics related to cognition, development, education and linguistics, including the study of non-verbal communication, like gestures.

In a 2011 TexXUChicago TED Talk, Goldin-Meadow makes the case that gestures not only reveal what is on a child’s mind, but can also help change a child’s mind in order to support instruction and learning. This exciting discovery reinforces and supports our innate impulse to use gesture as a way to convey meaning.

Families can play an active role in word recognition and vocabulary skills simply by incorporating gestures, creative movement and meaningful play experiences into a child’s world, whether at home or on the go! Here are five easy activities that use gesture to generate vocabulary practice and boost literacy skills over time.

  1. Trust your instincts: Use your own hands to gesture with your children.  It’s not clowning around, it’s communicating! And nothing works better than modeling.
  2. Words and actions go together: When reading, encourage your child to point to images and identify them not only with words and sounds, but also by making shapes with their hands/bodies.
  3. Sing along: When in the car, play simple songs that encourage children to use gesture and movement. There are a ton of great silly songs – remember “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”?
  4. Play: Encourage make-believe play where kids are given the opportunity to pretend and act out ideas.
  5. Practice: Try ‘Simon Says’ using gestures.  Practice is fun and it reinforces word and object recognition.

Whether you start with simple hand gestures or animated body language, by incorporating these elements into play and daily routine, you’ll be supporting your child’s literacy growth right in your own home!

Language and Literacy Series: What Reading Looks Like Together

Susan Magsamen is the Senior Vice President of Early Learning at global learning company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. She is a member of the Educational Advisory Board for The Goddard School and senior advisor to The Science of Learning Institute and Brain Science Institute at Johns Hopkins University.  This piece was originally published on HMH’s blog.

Reading TogetherOne of my favorite sayings is “If you take care of the moments, the years will take care of themselves.”  I can think of no other moment more precious and invaluable to ensuring a strong foundation than reading with a child – whether in the classroom, at home or in the library.

Language and literacy is the foundation for all learning. It’s a major portal through which the other learning domains unfold including math, science, social studies, creative expression, proficiency with technology, social /emotional development, 21st century skills, executive functioning and healthy, physical development.

We know that children acquire early, emergent literacy skills through various verbal and non-verbal forms. Books, in both print and digital form, have a well-earned and beloved role to play in supporting early literacy. They offer a unique progression of experiences.

While digital content brings its own unique benefits in terms of interaction and engagement, exposing young children to real books —so they have a full tactile and sensory experience of books — is always a good idea. Letting young children spend time alone with books, turning the pages and having an “up close and personal” involvement with the pictures and the letters on the page can stimulate their imagination and set the stage for self-driven exploration.

Reading books to children is equally valuable and establishes an especially positive and meaningful relationship as you read together. That meaningful relationship is the seedbed upon which a child’s confidence can flourish.

Interactive reading takes this a step further. Though it sounds like a tech term, it doesn’t have to be. It’s simply a style of reading with children that uses all elements of the book as a springboard for fuller exploration. That exploration might lead you to an app, online or real-time activity. For example, a story about baking cookies could lead to actual cookie baking; a story about finding a treasure could lead to drawing a treasure map.

Editor and author Jason Boog, is a real champion of interactive reading. Here he shares a list of print books provided by the American Library Association that are rich with opportunities for interactive reading.

Below are just a few examples of some great interactive reading books that support important skill development for early learners to get you started:big-green-monster

Social Emotional Development:

  • “Go Away Big Green Monster” by Ed Emberly

This book helps children unpack their fear of the unknown by literally taking it apart one page at a time.

Executive Function:give-a-mouse-a-cookie

  • “If You Give A Mouse a Cookie” by Laura Numeroff

There is no better way to understand process, consequences, and cause and effect than these delightful books.

  • “Curious George Saves His Pennies” by H.A. Reycg-saves-pennies

Helping young children learn and understand self-regulation and judgment are essential skills for lifelong success. Curious George explores through playful  trial-and-error exploration.

21st Century Skills:

  • “Jumanji” by Chris Van Allsburgjumanji

Innovation, creative problem solving, and collaboration are demonstrated through this amazing adventure where the world changes all the time.

Social Studies:

  • “Ultimate Weird But True,” National Geographicultimate-weird-but-true

Packed with tons of really cool, wacky facts that get little kids totally excited and engaged about the real world.

Over the next several weeks I look forward to discussing the power of language and literacy from some unusual points of view. What does gesture, behavior modeling, sound and vocabulary have to do with learning critical skills? How do you foster a love of reading with so many distractions? How do you use ebooks and other digital media and tools effectively to inspire a love of language and words? I will also provide ideas, recommendations and tips on ways to engage young learners.

Enjoy!

Making Time for Small Talk

Just Talk
The most important thing you can do to encourage language and communication is talk to your child. From infant, to toddler, to preschooler and on up through the years, share what you are doing, seeing and feeling. Small talk is a great way to maximize language growth. Always use tone and emphasis, and be sure to respond to your child’s attempts at sounds, words, sentences and conversation.

In Your Daily Travels
Whether at the market, bank or park, talk about what you see and hear along your way. Be descriptive. Chat about characteristics in terms of color, shape, size, what things do or sound like, how they taste, how they feel, how they smell. You’ll be surprised at what your children will absorb—and will share with you some day!

Keep It Simple
Discuss your child’s environment and focus on what is important to them. Every conversation counts. Your daily routine can be full of new words, experiences and feelings for your child. While reading a book together, running errands, making dinner or visiting a relative, ask your child many questions: What are you doing? How does that feel? Why/how does that happen? What happens next?

The Ultimate Reward
As they develop, your child will gain valuable conversation, language and social skills. As a result, the bonds and connections you will form with your child, through even the simplest of coos or the most complex of conversations, are absolutely priceless!