Category Archives: Blog

it’s what they know

May 27,2020

Research tells us that reading comprehension is dependent on knowledge. Consider this example: Although cricket is the world’s second most popular sport, when children in the United States hear the word “cricket” they probably think of an insect rather than a sport.  So if they come across the sentence “James and his brothers like to play cricket,” many US children might be confused. Do the boys like to play with an insect? Meanwhile, their British or Australian counterparts are likely to understand what the author of this sentence intended to communicate.

It is easy to see from this example how prior knowledge is crucial for children’s accurate comprehension. The richer children’s breadth and depth of knowledge of the world, the better they are able to comprehend what they read. So read widely, explore the outdoors, go places, do things, and share all that you know about the world with your children. Not only will they know more about the world, their reading comprehension will benefit.

What a Privilege!

April 26,2020

Research indicates that nothing is a more powerful persuader than one’s own firsthand experience. This rings true if you think about it. It doesn’t matter if I tell my children broccoli tastes good – they’ll believe their taste buds over my words any day of the week. So if we want children to view reading as the pleasure and privilege that it is, we need to let them experience that.

One way to do this is to follow the lead of NY Times Book Review Editor, Pamela Paul. She implements two bedtimes at her house. The first bedtime is for just going to bed and going to sleep (at say, 8:00 PM). But if her children want to stay up a little later (to say, 8:30 PM) they may do so — but only if they spend that time reading.

Although our grown children are beyond bedtimes, this sure sounds like a good idea to us.

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.