Category Archives: Blog

Keep Them Learning

March 23,2020

We agree with the American Academy of Pediatrics that it is best to minimize screen time. It’s true that many children watch excessive amounts of TV.

That may be especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools are shuttered. Kids are home. Many parents are working from home, too. It’s tempting but guilt-producing to park the kids in front of the TV.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if parents could flip a switch to turn TV time into educational time? Wait! There is just such a switch and it is a standard feature on many of today’s televisions and streaming services. It is called the closed captioning or subtitles feature.

Over 100 research studies have demonstrated that subtitles offer a wide range of benefits. They improve comprehension, memory, attention, reading skills, vocabulary, pronunciation, and literacy. They are especially useful for second language learners and emergent readers.

So, next time you permit your children to watch a mindless show on television, switch on closed captioning — and turn on their minds as well.

Stress Less

February 28,2020

Raising children can be stressful for parents. Fortunately, reading can be a powerful stress reliever. In fact, research conducted at the University of Sussex indicates that after only six minutes, reading can reduce stress levels by as much as 68%. The act of reading slows heart rates and eases tension in muscles, too. In fact, reading is a more powerful stress reducer than listening to music or going for a walk.

So when you feel so stressed you might “lose it,” get lost in a book. With any luck, you’ll more calm and relaxed in no time.

the five finger test

January 28,2020

When a book is too difficult to read, it can be frustrating. When a book is too easy to read, a child may not be challenged to learn new vocabulary. So how can you help your child find a book at just the right reading level?

Try the “five finger test” as described on the award-winning website, Reading Rockets. Here’s how it works. Open a book to a page in the middle; choose a page that is full of words. Ask your child to read that page out loud and to hold up one finger each time he or she comes across a new, unknown word.

  • If your child holds up one finger (thumb): Thumbs up! This book is a great choice and will be easy for your child to read.
  • Two fingers (thumb and index finger): Makes an L, this book is looking good! Your child should enjoy this book.
  • Three fingers (makes a W): Warning! This book may be best when read with an older sibling or adult.
  • Four or more fingers (whole hand): Stop! This book may be too difficult for your child to enjoy alone.

The five finger test is very helpful for finding a book that is at just the right reading level. We hope you find it “comes in handy”!