Choppy waters in 4th grade reading — Why?

Picture your child in a long race. You’ve been running alongside him ─ pacing him ─ for the first few years, while he’s growing trillions more nerve cell connections (synapses) than you have in your own adult brain. You’re helping nurture his learning in so many ways, including learning to talk and read. He’s steadily progressing in learning to identify words ─ and over time, to interpret their meaning in longer reading passages. By the time he approaches the fourth grade, he likely doesn’t need or even want you to pace him in the reading department anymore because he can […]

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Sign Language for Babies & Young Children

I’m on a plane reading the airline’s March 2016 magazine. On page 82, there’s a picture of a mom practicing sign language with her son. Accompanying the picture is a half-page marketing story from Smart Coos, a new Orleans-based company with a goal to “become the trusted, go-to destination for all-things-language for children.”[1] The company is providing services and tools to raise a child that speaks more than one language. The languages they’re offering are Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, French, English ─ and Interactive Baby Sign Language. They’re encouraging Sign Language for children too young to start early language classes. This […]

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Behind doors 1, 2 or 3──which toys promote infants’ literacy development?

Behind doors #1, 2 and 3, you can select three types of toys for your infant. Which door do you select to promote literacy development ── and why? Findings of a Northern Arizona University study examining the type of toys used by infants during play and the quantity and quality of parent-child communication using the toys provides some surprising answers.[1] In the study, 26 parents and their 10-16 month old infants were given three sets of toys to play with: Books── five different board books[2]. Traditional toys ── farm animal puzzle, shape-sorter, set of blocks. Electronic toys ── baby laptop, […]

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Should your child enroll in a dual language program?

Your child has the option to enroll in a dual language program in your school district. Will this option be beneficial for your child’s literacy development? And why has this question become part of a national and local policy debate? My son was five years old when we moved to a community piloting a dual language immersion program in the local public school district. The option was for first graders to voluntarily enroll in the French or Spanish program (programs in Japanese and Chinese would be added in subsequent years). Students would be learning in both English and a second language […]

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Blog for mom on her 99th birthday ─ why I wrote a “how-to” book for children

My fifth children’s picture book (How 7 Fish & 2 Ponds Landed in the Z House Backyard) came out a few weeks ago. Shortly after, the book landed gift-wrapped in a big box of gifts headed to mom for her ninety-ninth birthday. Yep, 99! After she read the new book, she remarked on the phone with surprise, “It’s a how-to book.” I agreed. I’ve been mulling over her comment for the last few days. With full intention, I did write a how-to book, hoping a child would get the gist of how a pond can be built. And hoping too that […]

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Holly welcomes guest bloggers to contribute articles to the blog – here’s how to check with her about ideas for topics and how to submit ideas.