Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Study after study shows evidence that ties vocabulary size to higher socioeconomic status and greater educational achievement. By age 3, children who are raised in a professional household know twice as many words as do children raised on welfare. It is not simply the number of words, but also how they are used that is important.
Vocabulary development by age 3 has been found to predict reading success and conversations before the age of 3 are directly linked to IQ development. Preschoolers who had heard more words had larger vocabularies once in kindergarten. Furthermore, when the students were in grade 3, their early language competence from the preschool years still accurately predicted their language and reading comprehension. The preschoolers who had heard more words, and subsequently had learned more words orally, were better readers. In short, early language advantage persists and manifests itself in higher levels of literacy.
There is a direct correlation between strong vocabularies and children being ready to learn to read. Many of the skills children need to get ready to learn to read are first learned in conversations. Reading aloud to children is one of the most important activities that help children get ready to learn to read. However, many of the benefits of the read aloud are lost if there is not the habit of talking to children about the story. Being read to does not automatically lead to literacy. The real link lies in the verbal interaction that takes place alongside the read aloud. Talking with children has an even stronger effect on literacy learning than reading aloud to them. Read-alouds are critical to help build vocabulary and knowledge which contributes to reading independently.
The good news is that vocabulary is inheritable—you can pass it on to your children. In our fast paced, media saturated world, thoughtful conversations are more important than ever before.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Here is my favorite quote of the day from William Alexander, (Goblin Secrets) the recipient of the 2012 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.
“The way things are, are not the only possible way they can be.
Stories are the first way we figured that out.”
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
“Everyone likes stories, but not everyone loves to read.” That’s the premise for Diane Frankenstein’s acclaimed book, “Reading Together: Everything You Need to Know to Raise a Child Who Loves to Read”. The book is a tool for parents and caregivers that will help them to identify and talk about appropriate books and themes for every age and reading level. The science of reading all points to the importance of comprehension and involving parents, but family-members don’t often have the tools to provide that level of guidance for their children. “Reading Together” is written specifically for parents who want to have meaningful conversations with their children about reading and the messages within stories.
Monday, November 12, 2012
A recent article in the NYT spoke of the trauma many people experienced when Storm Sandy knocked out Internet access for days. The author maintains “adults and children are overindulging in our devices, devoting ourselves to the trivial.” That is certainly debatable but what is irrefutable is the fact that young children need a different kind of stimulation for their brains to grow and develop.
One of the biggest challenges a parent faces is how much on line time do children need and how much is too much.
At birth, most of a baby’s 100 billion brain cells aren’t yet connected in networks. Those cells become connected when babies have stimulating experiences. Research shows that early language experience actually stimulate a child’s brain to grow. Talking develops a child’s use and understanding of language, which is the basis of reading. Vocabulary development by age 3 has been found to predict reading success and conversations before the age of 3 are directly linked to IQ development. Preschoolers who have heard more words have larger vocabularies when they enter kindergarten and are prepared to learn to read.
Busy parents along with children plugged into devices does not foster the type of interaction and stimulation children need to foster their verbal abilities. Language acquisition and fluency comes from face to face interaction, not from a device or a flash card. Put down the device and start talking.
Thursday, November 8, 2012
There is a two-fold challenge with the adoption of the Common Core standards by most states. First, how do teachers best prepare themselves to achieve the goals of the Common Core English Language Arts Standards. The second challenge is to take advantage of this opportunity to educate parents on what they can do in the home that supports their child’s work in the classroom. A strong partnership between school and home help children achieve academic success.
Conversational Reading (CR), reading and talking about a story, is a practice that correlates with the implementation of the Common Core English Language Arts Literacy State Standards.
Conversational Reading is a reading strategy that builds strong literacy skills by showing children how to get more from the books they read. Conversational Reading (CR) encourages children to read for meaning and shows them how to better understand a story through conversation. Strong comprehension skills are the foundation for children becoming proficient and confident readers.
Parents and caregivers also can practice Conversational Reading (CR) in the home by making it a routine to read aloud and to build in the habit of talking about the story as well. The benefits of CR show that the most important outcome is not how many books children read but how many conversations they have about the books they read.
The following is a brief summary of the strategies behind CR.
~ There are 3 steps to Conversational Reading:
Read a book. Ask a question. Start a conversation.
~ Many of the benefits of the read aloud are lost if there is not the habit of talking to children about the story. Being read to does not automatically lead to literacy. The real link lies in the verbal interaction that takes place alongside the read aloud.
~ Many of the skills children need to get ready to learn to read are first learned in conversation.
~ Conversational reading models asking good questions—questions that takes you someplace in your thinking. Learning how to ask good questions is the basis of learning because it actually determines the quality of our thinking.
~ The purpose of asking questions about the story is to engage the child in the story and ensure they fully understand the story.
~ Conversational reading helps children become more patient and thoughtful readers.
~ Reading to children in a family’s first language is enormously beneficial. Studies have shown that children with strong first language proficiency are more likely to develop greater English proficiency.