Posts Tagged ‘ learning ’

Reading Roadblocks

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

When my daughter started kindergarden, she hated reading. There I said it.

Her teacher always sent her home with books from which she was to read for at least 20 minutes every night. But whenever she sat down with a book, I’d watch her body slump and her mind wander to far away thoughts of magical moving pictures from the glorious TV in her room.

She was no stranger to reading before she started school. She had an entire library in her room that I filled with all of the classics. I’d been reading to her since she was in the womb, and she’s always loved reading hour, which we have every Saturday and Sunday after lunch. But this was different. Being in kindergarden meant that she had to decipher the strange letters on the page on her own, and that was no fun.

She once started to say “I hate rea-” to which I gasped and forbid her from ever having such thoughts. As an English major and a lover of books, this was like a punch in the stomach for me. I felt a sense of loss for all of the amazing stories she might miss out on; all of the lives she wouldn’t live if this feeling continued. Dramatic, I know, but it’s really how I felt.

So of course I did what every wise, all-knowing mother does when she encounters an obstacle: I called my mom.

“Being a mom means being a teacher,” my mom said. “Put your teaching pants on.”

Apparently moms have all kinds of pants in an invisible mom-wardrobe that we just have to whip out and pull on when called for. So I did.  I pulled on my teaching pants, and they weren’t comfortable, but they fit.

After watching her read each day, I took to the chalkboard in her room and made lists of word families that I noticed gave her trouble.

Practicing “ou” brought mountains and clouds to life on the page for her. I bought books that were fun, like We Are In a Book, by Mo Willems. She cracked up reading that one and asked for more of his books. One Saturday I encouraged her to write a letter to her favorite author, and a week later she received her first piece of mail – a response from Mo Willems himself. He thanked her and promised to keep writing “Funny jokes to make her laugh.”

It took some time, but soon enough, she was reading books at home that were well beyond the reading level that her teacher was assigning.

Now as a 1st grader, new books have become rewards for completing her chores and finishing other books.

Some of her favorites are Amelia Bedelia, and The Show Must Go On. She recently finished  The Adventures of Captain Underpants (in 2 days) and I challenged her to read Wayside School is Falling Down in 1 week. On the line – the entire Captain Underpants box set.

I’d be lying if I said that my daughter loves every book that she picks up. She’ll still swap a book for the TV if the story isn’t funny enough, but she’s come a long way from the days of (almost) hating to read. And I get to put the teaching pants back on the hanger during reading hour.

 

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Don’t Miss the Premiere of PEG + CAT on PBS!

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Math just got a little more fun with PEG + CAT, the new animated series from PBS KIDS. The show premieres this Monday, October 7, and promises to make problem-solving skills a breeze for your preschooler.

In each 30-minute episode, Peg and her lovable sidekick Cat encounter dilemmas that require some big thinking. Whether they’re trying a hand at adding and subtracting or learning broader concepts like size and geometry, the pair never back down from a number challenge (or a catchy learning tune). With backdrops like a pirate island or futuristic planet, the program proves math can be exciting and happen in the most unexpected places.

PEG + CAT comes at a vital time when children’s math skills are in dire need. National assessments have shown that 60 percent of students are performing below proficient levels in math by the fourth grade, according to the 2011 National Assessment of Education Progress Report.

Another inspiring element of the show: The main character is a young girl. While women make up 48 percent of the workforce, only 23 percent are in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math). Let’s hope a character as spirited and outspoken as Peg will be inspiration for boys AND girls everywhere to get their brains calculating.

Beyond math, PEG + CAT shows young ones the process of trial and error, such as figuring out multiple ways to move 100 chickens back to their coop. She may not get it right the first time, but Peg eventually learns from her mistakes and seeks help from friends along the way, both awesome life skills for the real world as well.

Want to get a sneak peek this weekend? Visit the show’s interactive website pbskids.org/peg, where you can also find local listings for the show, or download the PET + CAT Big Gig app for games and learning resources now.

Check out the video below to see how PEG + CAT was created!

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What can you do to help your child learn?

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

BY STEPHANIE WOOD

If you’ve got 10 minutes, you can help researchers find the answer to that critical question. Let’s face it: We’re all worried about how omnipresent tech devices are going to impact our kids’ classroom performance, along with other modern-day pressures like jam-packed schedules and increasingly competitive sports. To gain some insight, Parents has partnered with a consortium of researchers at Brown University School of Medicine, Children’s National Medical Center, and New England Center for Pediatric Psychology in an effort to find 50,000 parents of children in grades K-12 to take part in The Learning Habit Study. The survey has been designed to examine how media use, family routines, and parenting style all conspire to help or hinder a child’s ability to learn. “Our goal is to provide parents, teachers, and pediatricians information on which family routines and behaviors improve academic success, increase social skills, and contribute to emotional balance in children,” notes lead researcher Robert M. Pressman, Ph.D. 

boy with glasses

The project originally began in 2012, when Dr. Pressman’s team conducted two surveys on homework and family routines. The surveys were administered to 1,000 parents in the waiting rooms of 12 pediatric offices. Initial results found—yep, you guessed it—a link between nighttime media use (meaning any electronic device with a screen) and a decrease in grades, opening a Pandora’s Box of concerns.

We all want some answers and advice with science behind it on dealing with our own digital natives. Do your part by taking the survey—it’s available online until October 31, 2013.  (Bonus: Once you answer the questions, you can enter a sweepstakes to win $500.) Then stay tuned for the results, which will be published next August in the book The Learning Habit.

Click here to participate in the survey!

Image: Boy with glasses, via Shutterstock

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Erika Brannock, Maryland Teacher, Loses Leg In Boston Marathon Explosions
After two days of heavy sedation, Erika Brannock awoke Wednesday morning in her hospital bed to dramatic and gruesome news: Her left leg had been amputated below the knee, the only medical option for a team of surgeons handling traumatic injuries from the Boston Marathon bombings. (via Huffington Post)

Supporting Schools to Improve the Educational Outcomes of Emergent Bilinguals
The CUNY-NYSIEB project is one force that supports this shift from seeing bilingualism as a barrier to academic achievement to using students’ bilingualism as the essential element in their academic success. (via Huffington Post)

Child’s Counting Comprehension May Depend On Objects Counted, Study Shows
Concrete objects — such as toys, tiles and blocks — that students can touch and move around, called manipulatives, have been used to teach basic math skills since the 1980s. Use of manipulatives is based on the long-held belief that young children’s thinking is strictly concrete in nature, so concrete objects are assumed to help them learn math concepts. (via Science Daily)

Learning Disabilities Affect Up to 10 Percent of Children
Up to 10 per cent of the population are affected by specific learning disabilities (SLDs), such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and autism, translating to 2 or 3 pupils in every classroom, according to a new article. (via Science Daily)

Negative views tied to child maltreatment
Mothers-to-be who believe infants dirty their diapers to bother their parents or purposefully ignore their mothers may be more likely to abuse or neglect their young children, a new study suggests. (via Reuters)

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

US Preterm Birth Rate Lowest in a Decade
The percentage of babies born early in the United States in 2011 was the lowest in a decade, according to a new report from the non-profit March of Dimes. (via NBC News)

Fantasy-Reality Confusion a Primary Cause of Childhood Nighttime Fears
In a new study, published in Child Psychiatry and Human Development, researchers found that preschoolers with persistent nighttime fears were far less able to distinguish reality from fantasy compared to their peers. (via ScienceDaily)

When Babies Eat Fish Could Be Link to Asthma
Babies who first ate fish between the ages of six months and one year had a lower risk of developing asthma-like symptoms later on than babies who ate fish before six months or after their first birthdays, according to a Dutch study. (via Reuters)

Road to Language Learning Is Iconic
Languages are highly complex systems and yet most children seem to acquire language easily, even in the absence of formal instruction. New research on young children’s use of British Sign Language (BSL) sheds light on one mechanism — iconicity — that may play an important role in children’s ability to learn language. (via ScienceDaily)

Preschool Education Deserves Expansion, Investment: National Education Policy Center Brief
In a brief released Tuesday, National Education Policy Center managing director Dr. William Mathis urges policymakers to invest in high-quality preschool education, citing its universally acknowledged economic and social benefits. (via Huffington Post)

Columbus Officials Will Likely Face Criminal Referrals For Falsifying Ohio Student Data
As state officials said there’s a “strong likelihood” they’ll refer Columbus school employees for criminal prosecution at the end of their student-data probe, the district confirmed yesterday that federal authorities also are investigating. (via Huffington Post)

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

Some Schools Add Days to Academic Year to Increase Learning Time
According to the National Center on Time and Learning, a nonprofit research group in Boston, about 170 schools — more than 140 of them charter schools — across the country have extended their calendars in recent years to 190 days or longer. (via NY Times)

Teens Who Don’t Have Sex Still at Risk for HPV
A new study conducted in Cincinnati, which involved teen girls and young women, found that 11.6 percent of those who had never had sexual intercourse were infected with at least one strain of HPV. (via NBC News)

Honey May Ease Nighttime Coughing in Kids
A spoonful of honey before bed may help little kids with a cough – and their parents – sleep through the night, a new study suggests. Parents also reported that after giving honey to kids, their coughing was less frequent and less severe. (via Reuters)

Hospital Brings 3,000 Cats to Cancer Patient
When 16-year-old cancer patient, Maga Barzallo said the thing she missed most was her cat Merry, Seattle Children’s asked Facebook fans to send in pictures of their favorite pets – and received 3,000 photos in response. The hospital staff then combined the cat photos with purring sounds to create a slideshow for the teenager. (via CNN)

Urine Test May Predict Women’s Bone Risk
Researchers report that levels of a substance called cross-linked N-telopeptide of Type 1 collagen, or NTX, which is released into the urine when bones weaken, can predict the risk for future fracture in premenopausal, asymptomatic women. (via NY Times)

Can Telling the Truth Make You Healthier?
Telling a few white lies may seem harmless, but a new study suggests that you might improve your mental and physical health if you cut down on the fibs you tell. (via TIME)

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Wonderopolis: Learning through Discovery

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Wonderopolis - Learning Resources for Parents and Children

Just because your kids are out of school for the summer doesn’t mean they can’t keep learning! If you’re starting to feel like lazy summer days are frying their brains, check out Wonderopolis.org.

It’s an awesome new website that makes learning fun for kids—and sparks creativity for the whole family. Wonderopolis, started by the National Center for Family Literacy last October, helps parents and teachers make kids’ worlds a little brighter through the power of discovery, creativity, learning and imagination. Every day Wonderopolis posts a new “wonder”, or a curious question meant to make learning fun and practical.  Each Wonder of the Day covers a clever topic that parents and kids can put to use together with activities, vocabulary words and videos.

Through the Wonders of the Day, kids learn why flamingos are pink, what makes Jell-O jiggle and how fish can breathe underwater, and along the way they learn to think critically and use their imaginations. Your child can even use the site to learn about world news and events, too, with wonders such as “Where is Tornado Alley?” and “What are the ‘Ides of March?’”

This summer Wonderopolis is launching Camp What a Wonder, a free virtual camp that engages families in imaginative learning while school’s out of session. Check out the site every Thursday from June 23 to August 11 and you and your child can explore and discover tons of “wonders” about nature.

Next time you have a free hour with your kids, be sure to check it out! You can connect with Wonderopolis on Facebook or Twitter, too.

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Can Toddlers Learn to Read with an iPad?

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Apple iPad 2Stop feeling guilty the next time you hand over an iPad or iPhone to entertain your toddler — you may actually be helping him learn how to read.

ABCNews.com recently wrote about a new trend in ”toddler” apps, educational apps targeted to kids between 4 months to 3 year old, to help them learn earlier and faster.  One mom’s son started playing with an iPad at 9 months old, and now 5 months later, he recognizes letters and uses 75 apps.  Plus, since more toddlers are learning how to handle an iPhone and iPad, even Toys “R” Us is selling iPads and a kindergarten class in Maine will be getting their own iPads when school starts again.

However, another mom allowed her 3-year-old twins play with apps on an iPad, and while they recognized letters and numbers visually, they weren’t able to say or verbalize them.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids under 2 years old avoid watching TV or handling any electronics unless parents are making an effort to interact with their kids for teaching purposes.

The key, then, is interaction–kids still learn best through the human touch of good old-fashioned one-on-one teaching.  But are parents becoming too obsessed with forcing toddlers to be achievers at a young age, from getting them to read chapter books to enrolling them in sports classes to perfecting potty training techniques?

Would you give your child an iPad or iPhone if it would help him learn and read faster? And do you think parents are too obsessed with helping their kids become achievers?

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