Picture books can boost your child’s vocabulary

Interesting story reported by the Indo-Asian News Service. A study has claimed books having photographs but no words prove ideal for building children’s language skills. And, the parents can help their kids the best if they used such books for the bedtime story.

According to experts, parents turning to wordless storybooks end up spending time discussing the pictures and answering their toddler’s questions — exposing them to complicated words, Daily Mail reported.

Psychologists from the University of Waterloo, Canada, looked at 25 mothers as they read their children a set of bedtime stories.

They found the mothers used more advanced language when they picked up a picture book compared to a book with words.

Study author Daniela O’Neill said: “Too often parents will dismiss picture storybooks, especially when they are wordless, as not real reading or just for fun.

“But these findings show that reading picture storybooks with kids exposes them to the kind of talk that is really important for children to hear.”

O’Neill said while reading the picture story, “we would hear mums say things such as ‘where do you think the squirrel is going to go?’ or ‘we saw a squirrel this morning in the backyard’.”
“But we didn’t hear this kind of complex talk as often with vocabulary books, where mentioning just the name of the animal, for example, was more common.”
However, O’Neill also said books of all kinds could build children’s language and literacy skills, “but they do so perhaps in different ways”.

The article originally appeared here.

Monitoring Language Development + Dangers of Casual Sex + Raising Bookworms

[amazon asin=0307952282&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 1: Kenn Apel, coauthor of Beyond Baby Talk.
Topic: Understanding children’s language and literacy development.
Issues: How to evaluate and monitor your child’s spoken language development; enhancing your child’s literacy skills to improve spelling, reading, and writing; recognizing signs of literacy and language problems and know when to get professional help.

[amazon asin=0802450601&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 2: Joe S. McIlhaney Jr., coauthor of Hooked.
Topic: New science on how casual sex is affecting our children.
Issues: Chemicals released in the brain during sex can become addictive; the human brain isn’t fully developed until mid-twenties—until then, it’s harder to make wise relationship decisions; how to steer young people away from making life-changing mistakes.


[amazon asin=098158330X&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 3: Emma Walton Hamilton, coauthor of Raising Bookworms,
Topic: Getting kids reading for pleasure and empowerment.
Issues: Why it’s important for kids to grow up with the skills and appetite for reading; studies show that elective reading has declined dramatically over the past 50 years, but in over to participate in today’s and tomorrow’s workplace, young people will need powerful literacy skills to succeed; how to instill a love of reading in children from infants through teens.

Do Preschool Math and Reading Skills Predict College Success? Nope.

Preschool used to be pretty fun for kids. Lots of play, lots of hanging out with other kids and making friends. But in recent years, an increasing number of preschools have started teaching subjects like math and reading. The rationale is that kids need solid academic skills if they’re going to succeed in college and beyond. Sounds logical, but it turns out that it isn’t even close to being right.

[Read more...]

Want smarter kids? Have them play with dad.

One of the most classically dad things is playing–physically–with the kids. Now along comes another study that proves that imaginative play with dad is good for kids’s brains too. When you encourage your children’s imagination, their vocabularies are larger and they do better in math.

What’s unique about this particular study, which was done at Utah State University, is that the researchers went to the trouble of, gasp, including dads. Most previous play studies had looked at mom-child interactions.

So how do you boost the amount of imaginative play? Start by encouraging make believe and fantasy. Then, when your reading stories, don’t be shy about acting out some parts or talking about what’s happening in the illustrations or why particular characters are doing what they’re doing. Plopping your kids in front of the TV (or even watching silently with them) or reading books straight through from beginning to end without any commentary won’t help.

A bit more detail on the study here:

http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=19524630&title=study-shows-playtime-with-both-parents-crucial-to-child-development&s_cid=queue-6

 

When is reading with your kids like cigarette smoking?

Okay, provocative question, but I do have a point. When it comes to cigarettes, we all know what we should do: quit. And when it comes to reading to our children, we also know what we should do: story time for at least 20 minutes every night (or as close as you can).

So that’s why I was surprised to read about a new study done in London that found that less than a third of parents “read to their children every day and half say they are too busy to read and that work comes first.” And who’s to blame? Certainly not mom and dad.

The findings, commissioned for an annual search for new children’s authors, links the economic downturn with the decline of story time. Of 2,000 parents surveyed, 10 percent said they read to their kids only once a month, and another 10 percent say they never read to their children. “Half said their excuse for not reading was because they had been forced to work extra hours to cope with the rise in the cost of living.”

As someone who has read all of the Harry Potter books and all of the Series of Unfortunate Events books (13 of them) outloud to his kids at least twice, I’m pretty hard core when it comes to reading (I read to them and they read to me). You don’t have to be as obsessive as I am, but remember that kids who get read to when they’re young enter school better prepared and with larger vocabularies, do better in school, are more likely to graduate, and much less likely to get into trouble with the law (something like 75% of prison inmates have significant reading problems).

The full, gruesome article is here: www.indianexpress.com/news/parents-too-busy-to-read-bedtime-stories-to-their-kids/922737/0

There’s a Hole in the (Academic) Bucket… + Father’s Day Seal of Approval Winners

Dear Mr. Dad: As the school year draws to a close, I’m getting worried about my 9-year old daughter. She’s just an average student and really hates to do homework. I worry that she’ll forget a lot of what she learned over this past year and she’ll start fifth grade even further behind than she already is. What can we do?

A: I’m torn about this. On one hand, I think summers are a time for resting up, having fun, giving the mind a little time to recharge. Unfortunately, with so many kids booked into wall-to-wall camps and activities, summer can be even busier than the school year and recharging—at least mentally—is out of the question.

On the other hand, there’s the Summer Brain Drain, which is exactly what you’re worried about. Students lose, on average, 2 – 2.5 months of academic skills over the summer. Math and spelling are the subjects that get hit the hardest. Put a little differently, teachers have to spend the first month or two of the academic year reviewing material students learned—but didn’t retain—the year before. Here are a few ideas for how you might be able to plug the brain drain—or at least slow the leak down…

  • Visit the library. Most have great summer reading programs, complete with prizes for achieving reading goals.
  • Read at home. You and your child should take turns reading to each other every night, for 15-30 minutes each.
  • Look into summer schools. Sadly, only 10-20 percent of students attend one. But if your child is already weak in a subject or two, this is a great time to catch up—or possibly even get ahead.
  • Ask the teacher your child will have next year to let you borrow a few textbooks. He or she may be able to give you a summer reading list. At the very least, you can make doing a handful of math problems a prerequisite for playing computer games.
  • Don’t forget about writing. I’m not just talking about spelling and grammar—although both are important. I recently interviewed Jennifer Hallissy, author of The Write Start, who told me that “the speed and ease of children’s writing can have a major impact on their overall academic success.” Efficient writers take better notes—which makes studying a lot easier, regardless of the subject—and consistently get higher scores on written exams. Jennifer’s book has dozens of easy-to-implement activities for kids of any age.
  • Make learning fun. Of course, there are the usual standbys: trips to the zoo, museums, and planetariums. But you might also check out a few books that are filled with fun, entertaining (and, gasp, educational—but your child will never notice) activities. I’m really like the Geek Dad series by Ken Denmead, The Daring Book for Girls series by AndreaBuchanan and Miriam Peskowitz, and Sean Connolly’s The Book of Potentially Catastrophic Science, which isn’t nearly as dangerous as it sounds.

With the big day just around the corner, we’ve been working frantically to evaluate our largest-ever field of submissions for the MrDad.com Seal of Approval and GreatDad Recommends awards. This season’s winners include:

<ul>

<li>A very cool, reusable kit for building a kid-sized fire station, from Box-O-Mania (boxomania.com)
<li>Spanish language learning DVDs and CDs, from Whistlefritz (whistlefritz.com)
<li>A fun, Jack-in-the-Beanstalk play-and-book-in-a-box from InnovativeKids (innovativekids.com)
<li>Web Hunt and Oh, Really? Two engaging family games from Find It Games (finditgames.com)

</ul>
The complete list—as well as submission guidelines for new products and services—is at mrdad.com/seal.