Category Archives: Blog

Talk & Listen

February 23,2018

You may have heard that the number of words a child hears in the early years is very important for brain development (the more, the better).

But new research indicates that what is even more important than the number of words heard is meaningful, back-and-forth conversation.  A recent article in MIT News describes new research that confirms the importance of conversing with a child. A senior author of the study, John Gabrieli, said, “It’s almost magical how parental conversation appears to influence the biological growth of the brain.”

So listen to your children, ask questions, and explain what is happening in the world around them. Engage them in conversation about topics they are interested in or curious about. You’ll be helping to build their brains— and you’ll be building your relationship with your children.


Homework Helper

January 25,2018

Many teachers in the early grades task children with reading aloud nightly to an adult. Here are a few tips for making the most of this time:

  • Prioritize it! Reading provides very real and important lifelong benefits to your child. It improves cognitive function, helps raise math scores, develops vocabulary and communication skills, and fosters empathy. This assignment is far too important to your child’s future to skip.
  • Develop a routine in terms of the time of day for your child to read to you. Choose a time that works best for your schedule and your child’s temperament.
  • Sit side by side with your child so that you can both easily see the book (words and pictures).
  • Be patient. It is likely that your child will struggle with some words. That is okay. Wait a few seconds before jumping in. This video illustrates best practices for helping new readers.
  • Discuss what your child read afterwards. This can help improve comprehension.

Learning anything takes practice. Reading is no exception.

Books Build Brains

November 28,2017

Recent research proves what so many teachers have suspected for years: books literally help to build brains.

Scientists used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study what was going on in preschoolers’ brains as they listened to stories. They found that children with parents who read to them regularly and had more books in the home literally showed more brain activity when listening to an age-appropriate story: the fMRI showed significantly greater activation in the parts of the brain that support imagery and narrative comprehension as well as the part that processes visual association. This, despite the fact that the children were just listening to a story and could not see any pictures.

So keep going to the library and keep reading books. Provide a literacy-rich environment and help build the brains around you.