Archive

Posts Tagged ‘learning’

Expanding vocabulary

January 27th, 2015

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!

Lori Hayungs

communicating, language development, parenting , , , ,

Fingerplays and Fun Enhance Infant Language

January 15th, 2015

It’s cliché!  But oh so true.   Parents— really are a child’s first teacher.  It is amazing to watch tiny babies grow physical and mature into walking and running little people in less than 12 months.  It’s equally amazing to not only experience but influence the miracle of understanding and talking.  From the first babble of sounds to the uttering of recognizable words and then real sentences.  Infant communication is a miracle.    But it only happens with parents who take the time to interact.

Parents and caregivers who take the time to listen, coo, talk, read, sing, and  play games with their babies are teaching important language skills that will set children up for success.  Success in school is related to the acquisition of vocabulary.  Preschoolers who have increased vocabulary do better in school.  That sounds really simple!   ISU Extension has a helpful publication called “Understanding Children-Language Development”. (PM-1529f).  The publication has some great parent tips on ways to nurture child language skills as well as assessing your child’s typical developmental language skills.

Finger plays can be  a great way to interact with infants and toddlers.  Try out the “Old Owl” finger play, included in the publication.   Don’t worry if you can’t sing.  I don’t know any infants that care about your lack of pitch.  Remember some of your favorite finger plays from childhood.  My grandmother had some good ones that I still remember including—“Here is the church…Here is the steeple”?  Or how about “Fly Away Jack, Fly Away, Jill”.   What are some of your favorites?

492024543Janet Smith

communicating, language development , ,

It’s ok to be silly…

January 9th, 2015

It’s been a while since my kidos were babies. Lucky for my offspring,  smart phones had yet to be invented and my bag cellphone had a 30 minute limit!  The technological distractions for parents of young children has exploded.  Certainly it is as important now as ever to connect to with babies not only verbally but with eye contact and touch.  I’ve seen some parents who easily communicate with their babies and others who feel silly and awkward.  One technique that I remember using was what I’ll call the “tour guide” .  Babies are seeing the world through completely new eyes.  Parents can describe and converse with their babies over almost anything that they see, hear, touch, taste, or feel!   I can remember some pretty strange looks in the grocery store, as I talked my way through the aisles in conversation with my than youngsters.   The more talk that goes on…the more natural it becomes.  The awkwardness soon fades..but  hopefully some of the silliness stays!

 

Janet Smith

 

communicating, language development ,

Do I Have to Practice?

October 13th, 2014

pianoThose old upright pianos – you’ve seen them in church basements, gathering dust at the back of stages, sitting unclaimed at auctions. While they’ve been replaced by smaller pianos and keyboards, these music instruments provided the setting for early music lessons for many kids. I remember staying in town after school a couple of times a month to walk to a home for music lessons. Then there was the daily practice in an unheated room pounding away on an old piano donated by a great aunt and uncle. My great aunt was the church organist and maybe she thought I might be her replacement someday. Each year I learned my pieces for the recital and managed not to humiliate myself.

So did I become an accomplished pianist? Nope – quit the lessons in high school. Were the lessons worth the time and money? I like to think so. Did I ever wish I’d continued lessons? Well, many years later as an adult I took lessons again for a year. The funny thing is I found I still wasn’t very good at playing and I still didn’t like to practice.

The point of my story is that I did learn a couple of important life skills. I found out quickly that it took a lot of patience on my part (and the teacher’s) to learn to play an instrument. It did not come easy; it was not always fun; and no matter how much I practiced, I still made mistakes. Learning to play a piano was my introduction to perseverance. The list is long of all my life experiences where it was not easy or fun and I made mistakes. But I kept working and practicing and did my best.

Want to know the rest of my story? In the living room, I have an old player piano that belonged to my grandmother. I taught the 3 daughters how to read music and they all played it to varying degrees. The grandchildren took their turns. And on a quiet afternoon or evening I am sometimes drawn to the keyboard where I play for my own enjoyment. Patience and perseverance and now relaxation – that’s a pretty good return on the investment.

Donna Donald

music

The Beat Goes On

October 2nd, 2014

Attending school concerts, paying for instruments and supervising practice sessions, parents might wonder: Is it worth their time, money and nagging for their children to be involved with music?

Sometimes those beginning piano lessons – and those teenage garage bands – can be difficult to listen to, but music helps children build skills and develop their brains it also helps children improve their concentration, coordination and self-confidence, as they take pride in their achievements.

 

Join us in October as we delve deeper into the skills learned in music and how those skills transfer into other learning. We’ll also talk about what parents can do to share their own love of music.

 

 

podcast , , , ,

That Wasn’t the Smartest Choice

September 26th, 2014

“Why in the world did you do that?” “Didn’t you think about what you were doing?” Ok, I’ve heard these words and I’ve said these words. Sometimes kids make bad choices and sometimes parents and adults don’t make the best decisions.

If we ask kids why they make some of the choices they do, responses might be:

  • It seemed like the thing to do at the time.
  • I just did it. I didn’t think about any consequences.
  • Who takes time to think?
  • I wanted to be cool with my friends.
  • We just wanted to have a little fun.
  • I don’t need my parents telling me what to do all the time.

These aren’t exactly what parents want to hear, but let’s face it. Kids will do unwise (even stupid) things as they grow up. That is one way they learn. It is important for parents to help ensure that kids do indeed learn and don’t repeat bad choices.

So how does this work? Well, one important piece is to let kids be held accountable and bear the consequences. Turned in homework late – lost points on the grade. Didn’t do assigned chores – have to miss favorite TV show to catch up. Broke curfew for football team – sit on the bench for a game.

If a child’s safety isn’t compromised, most of the time parents can allow the consequences to teach the lessons of making decisions. How have you responded when your child makes a bad choice?

Donna Donald

 

decision making, parenting, raising teens , ,

Cell Phones as Learning Tools or There’s an App for That!

August 29th, 2014

Child and phone at schoolI 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.

Donna Donald

media and kids, school , ,

From Maps to Apps

June 25th, 2014

Vacation day arrives bright and sunny. As the car pulls out of the driveway, you glance into the back seat to be sure the kids are settled. And settled they are – completely engrossed in whatever their smartphones and tablets have to offer. Is this what you had in mind for family vacation? Are you going to be nagging everyone (maybe even yourself) the whole trip to put the phones away?

It is well to remember that learning can happen in many ways. While the days of counting cars and playing the ABC sign game may be a thing of the past, family fun continues.

mapHere’s one example. Reading maps were a big deal when we traveled as a family. Someone would trace the route with a highlighter. We would use the legend to figure the distance in miles. Another person would check the population of towns we passed through and compare them to our hometown. Maps even had information about historical sites.

Now there’s an app for everything we used a map for – and more! Have the kids take turns with finding directions, checking out places to eat, sharing fun things about places, etc. You can make this into an electronic scavenger hunt (that dates me). The amateur photographers in the family can be responsible for taking pictures and creating a virtual album.

The point is to turn smartphones and tablets into a useful, learning part of vacation rather than a battle. And it’s still ok to occasionally have some “phone free” time. This too can become a game. Each family member gets to pick time during the awake hours each day when phones and tablets are taboo.

How do you handle this issue on your family vacation?

Donna Donald

education, family time, media and kids , , ,

A treasure hunt vacation? SIGN ME UP!

June 20th, 2014

SandraGeocachingGuest Blogger, Sandra McKinnon

Geocaching: A Great Family Activity

Geocaching is a world-wide treasure hunt where you electronically use longitude and latitude to locate the “loot.” It is a great low-cost family activity. It is easy to catch on to and you can do it anywhere you are.

My adult son introduced me to the game. We used his handheld GPS unit and went searching in a nearby park. What we found was a camouflaged box full of trinkets. He explained we could take a trinket, but if we did we were to leave another of at least equal value. We signed the log that was inside the box and carefully put it back where we found it. Then we went along our merry way as if nothing had happened.

How did he know that the box was there? He went online to geocaching.com and searched near his home for a cache. He plugged the coordinates into his GPS and we left the house. When we were back to the house, he went online to log the find.

Now, the electronic treasure hunt is as easy as getting an app on your smartphone. You simply search near where you are, choose the level of difficulty and terrain you feel appropriate, and then off you go geocaching.

Since the time with my son, I have logged caches in several states. I have also introduced geocaching to several friends, relatives and colleagues. My 4 year old grandson and I have gone hunting together. We searched for one that was easy enough to get to and to find. He delighted to find the treasure! And no one saw us – which is a trick sometimes! You see, the caches are secret so you don’t want anyone to know what you are doing.

I’ve enjoyed traipsing stealthily all over the U.S. It is a quick activity to stretch your legs or get children out to run a bit when the family stops for a break on a trip. Or plan a picnic and day out exploring wherever you are. Hint: many geocaches can be found at safe places like rest areas, parks and cemeteries.

Maybe you’ll find a cache that I have hidden. What will be inside it?

To learn more about the rules and courtesies of the game, and to search near you, visit geocaching.com.

education, family time, miscellaneous, play, positive parenting, relationships , , , , , ,

Just Read Everything in Sight

September 19th, 2013

AlphabetDid any of you ever play the “Alphabet Game” when traveling in the car with kids? It went like this. Look for any word that starts with the letter “A.” When you see it, yell out the word before anyone else can. Billboards, road signs, business signs, moving vehicles – all were eagerly searched for that letter. And things turned really interesting towards the end of the alphabet. This game got our family through many road trips. :)

We can use opportunities throughout a day to help our children practice reading. Following a recipe, shopping for groceries, checking the weather, following sports scores, picking out a movie to go see. Yes, reading materials are more than books. And books can be more than bound pages with a hard cover. Introduce your child to the fun of audio books. Now we have online or electronic options with literally any book at our fingertips. It’s not about which type of method is the best. It’s about getting your family to read so choose what works for you.

How have you made reading fun in your family?
Donna Donald

language development, reading , ,

Saturday Morning and a Paper Bag

September 6th, 2013

booksLet 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.

Donna Donald

language development, reading , ,

It’s Easier to Do Myself

August 23rd, 2013

Ok, I confess. On more than one occasion I decided it was just easier to do a job myself than deal with a kid who didn’t want to run the vacuum or empty the dishwasher. She was busy or tired or just not interested. Never mind that I was also busy or tired or not interested. I think this is one of the biggest obstacles for including children in household chores. They resist and we end up doing the task ourselves because it’s easier. Then we end up feeling like everyone’s personal maid and being resentful.

So how can we get out of this trap? An important piece is to remember that we are teaching life skills. By having realistic expectations and providing guidance, we can get there. One really good rule of thumb is “don’t do things for children they can do for themselves.” Let me give you an example. When a child is young we dress him and tie his shoes. As soon as he is capable we teach him how to dress himself and applaud his efforts to tie his own shoes. The same thinking applies to household tasks. We make the bed for babies and toddlers. But once she can climb in and out of her own bed, she can begin to put the pillow in place and pull up the covers. If we teach children how to do something and continue to offer support, we are on the way to raising responsible kids who can take care of themselves.

Check out Inspire Children to Help with Chores for more practical tips.

Donna Donald

chores, miscellaneous, parenting ,

At what age should they start chores?

August 15th, 2013

GREAT QUESTION!  How about right now?!

If you look up Children and Chores at www.extension.org  you will find several different articles on children helping with household chores. And guess what? They can start right now helping with all kinds of things. Even toddlers LOVE helping to put socks in the basket or towels in the drawer.

Allowing children to help around the house gives them hands on experiences for learning as well as a feeling of independence and responsibility.

It is important to share with the child how you want the task done, let the child do it and then DON’T re-do when they are done.  Did you catch that? It’s OK that there is a wrinkle in the blanket or the fork is upside down. Let them know how proud you are of the work they did and keep modeling the way you would like it done eventually. Remember, you probably had a wrinkle in your bed at that age as well.

What are some chores that you have your children helping with? Share with us!

Lori Hayungs

brothers, chores, discipline, family time, fathers, mother, overindulgence, parenting, positive parenting, siblings, sisters , , , , , , , ,

Children and Chores

July 31st, 2013

When asking children to take out the garbage or to help with the dishes, we may sometimes feel like we are talking to ourselves. Families are busy, but there’s a minimum amount of work that has to be done at home to keep things going, so do we just give up and have the adults do all the work, or do we involve the kids in helping with daily chores? 

During August, join us as we talk about the benefits and obstacles to children and youth doing chores.

 

 

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Fathers are more fun…

June 21st, 2013

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!

Lori

divorce, education, family time, fathers, grandparenting, mother, play, positive parenting, raising teens, social-emotional , , , , , , , , , , , ,