For the next couple of blogs I was able to sit down with Constance Beecher, Ph.D, Assistant Professor, School of Education and Human Sciences Extension and Outreach. Join us as we converse about children and expanding their vocabulary.
I began by sharing with Dr Beecher that often parents ask, “How much should my child be talking?” or “Is my child using enough language?”
“How can parents help their children? Build a strong vocabulary.” says Dr. Beecher.
Below Dr. Beecher shares about vocabulary development and a vocabulary recipe for success.
Research on the importance of vocabulary development in the early years finds:
- Having a good vocabulary is one of the best predictors of school success.
- Very rapid vocabulary acquisition occurs in the pre-literate preschool in into school age (2,000-3,000 words/year)
- 12th grade seniors near the top of their class knew about four times as many words as their lower-performing classmates.
- Third graders with large vocabularies were about equal to lowest-performing 12th graders.
- Children with speech and language disabilities and from low-income and second language homes have the lowest vocabulary gains.
A Vocabulary Recipe for Success:
- Increase the number of conversations (have more than just short adult to child conversations, allow the child respond back)
- Check for comprehension (ask follow up questions)
- Use strategies to increase breadth (like using big words and synonyms)
- Repeat words and have children practice with you (let them do more than just watch)
We would love to hear how you have added to your child’s recipe for success. Share your tips and techniques here!
I just read an interesting report titled “Living and Learning with Mobile Devices.” The report from Grunwald Associates LLC focuses on what parents think about mobile devices for early childhood and K-12 learning. Many parents see the potential and value for mobile devices (smartphone, tablets) and apps as learning tools.
Some of the learning benefits are: promote curiosity, foster creativity, teach problem solving, teach reading, teach math, teach science, and teach foreign languages. Early in the “mobile era”, schools often fought the battle of keeping cell phones out of the classroom. Now it appears, teachers are beginning to embrace smartphones as a teaching tool.
Occasionally I think about the evolution of tools and techniques. I learned to type on a manual typewriter and take shorthand. Now I type on a smartphone and use shortened words or initials to communicate a message. Different times – different ways – but still communicating and learning.
The kids are coming home from school with assignments so how about one for you parents? Check with your child’s teachers about use of mobile devices in the classroom. Are they permitted? Are they encouraged? Are they used for learning or communication? If mobile devices are used for learning, what provision is made for students who do not have these devices?
Go ahead and share what’s happening in your school with others reading this blog.
When our kids were growing up, there wasn’t much time or money for family vacations. But somehow one summer we managed to load the five of us in the Suburban and head to Chicago. Looking back I think all of us had different ideas about vacation. The girls wanted to swim in the pool at the hotel, my husband looked forward to interesting food, and I couldn’t wait to get to the museums. During the road trip, we started talking about possibilities and I realized I needed to think fast (something which Moms do pretty well).
Here is my solution. Each person got to choose one thing he or she really wanted to do. Then the rest of us would agree and participate. We didn’t have to like it but the rule was – no whining and no complaining. Now the interesting part. I chose the Museum of Science and Industry. A stern look was needed to silence the complaining that was about to erupt. We entered the museum and began to look at the exhibits on the first floor. And then the magic happened. After 30 minutes the girls were still enthralled in the first couple of exhibits. I had to keep encouraging them to move along to see more. Fun and learning and family time all got wrapped up into one wonderful afternoon. The discussions about what we saw and experienced extended well into the evening and later on the trip home.
A couple of takeaways here.
- Mom doesn’t have to do all the planning. Everyone can have a voice in what the family does on vacation.
- An afternoon at the museum can be a fascinating way to learn – in this case, science.
I still have a couple of the plastic cups we got at the Brookfield Zoo while on this vacation. Every time I use one, the fond memories come flooding back.
Juggling work schedules, kids’ commitments and the family budget may make some parents wonder if a family vacation is worth the effort. But before giving up, consider this: the kids might learn something from the experience. Families take vacations for many reasons – to spend time together, have some fun, or rest and relax. However, research shows these opportunities to visit other people and places and see something new can actually boost your child’s academic achievement.
Join us during June as we talk about summer vacations and academic achievement.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
Let me start by sharing a childhood memory. Every Saturday morning my mother would load us four kids in the car and drive into town to the library. Then she gave us each a paper grocery sack and turned us loose. We filled our sacks with a week’s worth of reading and left the library excited about “our new books.” Later in the evenings we would all, parents and children, settle down with a book or magazine.
Now many years later I can tell you we never stopped reading. All four of us kids read daily – books and magazines and newspapers.
So what’s the point of my story? It’s really quite simple. Our parents made it a priority to expose us to the world of reading at an early age. They made sure we had access to reading materials and modeled reading themselves.
Thank you Mom and Dad for giving your kids a gift that keeps giving – hours of enjoyment with books in hand. And yes, I still go to the library on Saturday mornings to stock up on books for the week. The only difference is I carry a reusable library bag instead of the brown paper one.
Brothers and sisters can seem to be arch enemies one moment and best friends the next. Or maybe you’ve described it as “can’t live with them, can’t live without them”.
The good news is that while siblings fight a lot, they also learn to resolve the conflicts, this is a valuable social skill that translates well into relationships in school. Fast forward into the adult world with personal and work relationships, and you can readily see how living with siblings is a rehearsal for later life.
During July, we will talk about the benefits and challenges of siblings, stereotypes, and how siblings shape each other’s lives.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
Got your attention didn’t I? Now moms, don’t be mad at me because we can be WAY fun, and trust me I am a really fun mom, it’s just that sometimes I feel like fathers are more fun!
So I was curious. Was I just ‘feeling’ less fun? Or is there was a difference in how mothers and fathers have ‘fun’. Here is what I found.
A summary of Fathers Involvement in Their Children’s Schools shared the following (http://nces.ed.gov/pubs98/fathers/):
- Researchers are in agreement that mothers and fathers interact differently with their children (Parke, 1995).
- Fathers spend proportionately more time playing with their children, while mothers spend a greater proportion of their total time with their children in caretaking activities (Lamb, 1986).
- Because mothers spend a greater amount of time overall with their children, they may actually spend more time playing with them than do fathers, yet caretaking is still what best characterizes their time, while play best characterizes the fathers’ overall time with their children. Fathers and mothers also play differently with their children, with fathers much more likely to be rough and tumble (Parke, 1995; Hetherington and Parke, 1993).
Whew!! I’m not less fun! I just play different than fathers do! I would love to hear how you play and have fun. Whether you are a mother or a father, spending time having fun and playing is so important. Share ideas here!
Guest Blogger- Family Life Intern Mackenzie K.
As Donna and the podcast suggested, anger is natural for children. There are countless issues that may cause a child to feel angry: not getting their way, frustration over things that are hard, learning difficulties, family problems, or friendship issues.
Often times we want to tell our children that they should not be angry. Their anger sometimes seems irrational and unjustified to us as parents. In reality, the emotion of anger is not the problem; it is how they handle that anger.
So allow your child to feel angry. We all know how hard it is to try to change your emotions. Help your child identify their feeling as anger. Saying and labeling the emotion like this may be helpful, “You are angry because I won’t let you eat candy before supper” or “I can tell that when you don’t make the circle perfect it makes you frustrated”.
Now that they can recognize their anger, they can learn how to address it. There are some great strategies and tips to try when helping your child learn to handle their anger in the article below:
Helping Children with Anger
Does anyone have any experience using these techniques? What has worked best for you and your child?
Hmmm so I wondered after the last blog about myself and my children. I checked out the resources that Donna listed and am sharing here four of the clues to overindulging children. You can find the research and resources here…. 4 Clues to Overindulgence
Instead of sharing with you the questions, I am going to share with you the examples.
- My five-year-old has toys in every room of the house, but he is always begging for new toys.
- My ten-year-old’s clothes closet is bulging with garments, but she can’t find anything to wear to school in the morning.
- My 13-year-old has a heavy after-school activity schedule every day and all day Saturday. We want to keep him occupied so he won’t get into drugs.
- My 17-year-old loves the computer and video games. He spends all of his time looking at the screen. He isn’t interested in sports, and it is a struggle to get him to exercise. I’m afraid he stays up half the night.
I encourage you to go view the questions. Then come back here and share your thought with us!
They made me think.
This month we are focusing on how to get the school year started right!
The short podcast gives a few ideas on homework and we are having an evening webinar on Monday the 10th of September to add more ideas to create success! Listen to the podcast and join us on the 10th!
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
Do you ever having trouble remembering something you just read? Or you’ve already forgotten what you did five minutes ago or plan to do next? Happens to me way too often and I’m always telling myself, “Focus Donna.”
When I listened to the podcast I heard the “focus” word loud and clear. We’re told that focus has a lot to do with what we remember. In the classroom the teacher has to first get a child’s attention before he can teach a new concept. As a parent you have to get your child’s attention before you can even have a conversation.
Then the next step is to do something to elaborate on what was learned. This points out the need for enrichment activities to take learning to a higher level.
For example, let’s say your child just learned fractions. What can you do to enrich the concept? One idea is to have him help you bake his favorite cookies. He will soon be using those fractions with the measuring cups and spoons. Perhaps an older child is wrestling with active and passive verbs. She can elaborate on the definitions by writing a short story.
Focus and enrich – two simple words and concepts that are so important when it comes to learning. First we must remember and then we use or practice what we learned. What do you do to help yourself focus and remember? What have you found helpful in extending and enriching your child’s lessons?
Picture a country school filled with students 1st through 8th grades. Hear the murmurs coming from the coatrooms. Imagine yours truly sitting cross legged on the floor next to a beginning reader.
This is the world I experienced for the first eight years of my education. I attended a large country school with three classrooms and three teachers. We studied hard and played hard. And when you finished your assignments you got to be the teacher’s helper. This is where the coatroom enters the picture.
I would take a student from a lower grade to the coatroom. Then we would settle in under the jackets or coats and between extra shoes and boots. The little student would open up her reader or pull out math problems and we would go to work. I would listen, explain, and teach. When our time was up we returned to the classroom; both of us knowing just a little more.
My story is not just a walk down memory lane. Rather it serves to illustrate a critical point made in the podcast about learning. It is important to have overlearning which is well past the initial learning. And one of the best ways to do this is by teaching someone else what you have learned. When I was helping a student pronounce a big word or work through a multiplication problem, I was reactivating my knowledge. I was learning again and again.
My class was the last one to graduate from this country school. Today, education looks and feels quite different. But the concepts of how students learn remain the same. We constantly relearn what we’ve learned before and each time it gets faster.
What can you do this summer to help your child relearn prior lessons?
When children learn something well the first time, even if they do forget, relearning is easier. This month’s Science of Parenting podcast from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach examines how children learn and how teachers and parents can adapt teaching to fit learning and memory. It’s the final long-form podcast in the series.
ISU Extension Publications
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
I am a product of Sesame Street. Yep, I counted with the Count and ate cookies with Cookie. And deep down I’m probably still in enamored with loveable furry ‘ole Grover!
According to this month’s podcast there are 34 years of research that shows I very likely went to kindergarten having ‘learned’ from Sesame Street! Knowing that tv truly is ‘teaching’ our children can be both exciting and frightening at the same time. This month’s podcast addresses how we can sift through what our children should and shouldn’t watch on television.
As I think about what my children might be learning from tv, I think most about all of the different channels available. I only had three options. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of the different programming options available. My girls and I enjoy several of the nature and real life types of shows on various channels, but have also watched the cartoon-y children’s programs. We like the options!
Do I limit what they watch – yes I try my best. Are there times that they may be watching something less than stellar in my opinion? Absolutely. As I was listening to the podcast I appreciated the recognition that different channels may have both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ programming. That one channel may not be all ‘bad’ or all ‘good’. The bottom line was that I needed to pay attention to the different programs, watch them for myself and then determine whether it would be something I should let my girls watch.
What types of characteristics do you look at when you determine whether or not your children should watch something?
Preschool. End of September. We are all comfortable and happy when we start off to preschool right? The transition is now complete.
Umm not really. There is still fussing over shoes, whining over show-n-tell and dragging feet at the car door. You think to yourself, “Am I the only parent still struggling to get my child comfortable with starting preschool?” or “Why does everyone else’s child bound happily in the front door while I have to carry mine in?”
Guess what? You are not alone! Every child transitions or has a comfort level for beginnings, at a different rate. In fact, it is likely that by the time your child gets comfortable, there may still be others that haven’t completed the process. Children adjust to new situations (like starting preschool) based on their own individual temperament. And, if you really think about it, you may even recognize some of your own uncomfortable apprehensions in the face of your child (they got their temperament from you!).
As we think about trying to help our children through new situations it is most important to continually think about how it seems from their point of view. They have never been to preschool before, and each DAY is literally a NEW day to them. Yes, they may have been there for 2-3 weeks already but now it’s colder, they have more things to pack in their back pack, more items to remember, the building looks different when it is surrounded by brown & not green, their friends may be louder as they have become comfortable, it’s ALWAYS a NEW DAY. And with newness comes apprehension and uncomfortable feelings. Real feelings we can’t ignore.
Each time we remember to appreciate or acknowledge the apprehension our child feels, instead of becoming frustrated by it we are able to show our child that we ‘understand’. We may not be able to help our child alleviate the apprehension to newness but we can ‘acknowledge it’ and try to ‘understand’. Those two things alone may help increase your child’s comfort level.
What are some ways that you have shown appreciation for or acknowledged your child’s apprehension? What happened when you did? What are some techniques that you have done to help your child feel more comfortable in uncertain situations? Share your ideas with us!