Sunday, 20 Oct 2019

Improving Child Literacy

How to grow Dick
- A man with a seven-inch (18 cm) penis may proudly compare his organ to the average man’s five to six inches (12-15 cm) but be intimidated when learning another wields an eight-inch (20 cm) rod.

 

Child Literacy. Catherine Snow, a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education and a renowned expert on language development, began her studies when very little was known about how children learn language—it was truly a new frontier.  Among the debates in the field, as mentioned, was the question of how much language is innate versus learned. Snow and her colleagues David Dickinson and Patton Tabors began what has become a landmark study: The Home-School Study of Language and Literacy Development. The idea was to look for a group of families where the children would be at risk for not developing strong literacy skills and determine over time which experiences the families and schools provided that made the biggest difference in children’s development in language, literacy, and reading.

We started with a group of eighty or so low-income families with three-year-old children. We visited the families at home and [at school] every year when the children were three, four, and five. And [we’ve] tested the children every year starting when they were five on language and literacy skills. Among the techniques they used were taping family dinnertime conversations, story times, and playtimes, as well as interviewing parents. I love the idea of taping dinnertime conversations and wonder what ours would have sounded like when our kids were little. Dinnertime was such an important time for all of us to be together.

 

Improving Child Literacy - photo 1
Improving Child Literacy

 

An Exercise: What Do Your Dinnertime Conversations Sound Like?

 

Listen to your mealtime conversations as if you are a researcher. What did you learn? One parent tried this and found that she was not having a conversation, but listening to soliloquies from her oldest and youngest child, while her middle child remained quiet. So she began to work on weaving the one-way comments into a conversation and including this middle child. Over the years, three findings from the Snow, Dickinson, and Tabors study have been most predictive of children’s language and literacy skills: While reading books or talking at the dinner table, parents talk about issues that go beyond the here and now. Snow says that this talk involved telling stories or getting the child to respond to questions like “What do you think is going to happen next?” Or “Why do you think that happened?” They used what Snow calls “extended discourse”:

Extended discourse means talk about topics that goes on longer than just a sentence or two. So, for example, when these more successful families read books, they didn’t just read the book and then ask questions like “What’s that?” or “What color is it?” They asked questions like “Why do you think [the character in the story] did that?” [They asked] questions that involved the children in analysis, in an evaluation of the book, but also questions that gave them a chance to talk through their understanding of the story. They also often encouraged children to tell stories about their own lives that mirrored the stories in the book: “The little bear was scared. Do you remember when you were scared?”

 

Improving Child Literacy - photo 2
Improving Child Literacy

Parents Use A Sophisticated Vocabulary 

 

Snow says: In these dinner table conversations, of course, there’s always a lot of talk about “Eat your peas” and “Keep your elbows off the table” and “Pass the noodles,” but in some of the families, in addition, there’s wonderfully interesting conversation about what proposals the governor just suggested for the new budget, or how the construction of the expressway is going to influence the neighborhood. And these conversations are full of wonderful words like budget and governor and proposal and neighborhood—words that children might not use [and] probably don’t understand fully. We found that families that used words like that in their dinner table conversations had children with much larger vocabularies two years later.

The difference between knowing three thousand words and knowing fifteen thousand words when you arrive at kindergarten is enormous. The child who knows three thousand words knows words like shoes and milk and jump. The child who knows fifteen thousand words knows words like choice [and] possibility—words that index a more complex array of possibilities for dealing with the world. There is support for children’s literacy. Snow says: These were [families] that had bought children books; that ensured that children [were] read to regularly by parents and by other adults; that had pencils, paper, and crayons around and encouraged children to write. [These were] homes in which the parents themselves also engaged in regular reading, got a daily newspaper, or read magazines or books regularly.

 

Improving Child Literacy - photo 3
Improving Child Literacy

A Parent’s Perspective: Everyday Traditions

 

I started reading to Jimmy when he was about six weeks old. When he was around four months old, we established a bedtime routine that included reading two books aloud. I would tell him that it was “time for books, nursing, night-night.” When he stopped nursing and the routine evolved, it was, “Time for bath, books, night-night.” Eventually we’d make jokes like, “Time for bath, going to the zoo, night-night”—he thought this was hilarious.Reading was one of our first rituals together. Now we also have a ritual called “family sing.”

A couple of times a week, we go into the living room after dinner, play songs on the guitar, and sing. Jimmy plays his own little guitar or drums, or he just sings. “Family sing” has been a nice time to just be together for the purpose of having fun, rather than trying to accomplish anything like eating a meal or getting out the door to preschool, etc. It’s been a good opportunity to talk about taking turns, too. Initially, we let Jimmy choose all the songs, but then we decided that we wanted choices, too.

 

Improving Child Literacy - photo 4
Improving Child Literacy

A Parent’s Perspective: Special Traditions

 

A close family friend gave us a copy of The Polar Express at my baby shower. I read it to my daughter on Christmas, and signed my name and the date to the inside cover of the book. I plan to have a different family member read it to her each year and sign their name until she is old enough to read it out loud to us. Then she can sign her own name and the date. I hope that this will become a family tradition she remembers her whole life. Preschool also makes a difference. The Home-School Study of Language and Literacy Development found that three quite equivalent factors predicted children’s literacy skills. Catherine Snow summarizes the findings:

  • Teachers use “cognitively engaging talk”:

This is very much like the kind of talk that we saw in homes around books—asking the children to consider hypothetical situations or to make future plans; asking children to talk about their own lives and how these relate to the stories in the books.

  • Teachers use more complex, sophisticated words when talking to children.
  • Teachers have a content-oriented curricular plan:

Catherine Snow, a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education and a renowned expert on language development, began her studies when very little was known about how children learn language—it was truly a new frontier. She says:

I could review the literature on language development in a weekend, because there was so little of it in 1967. Now, of course, it’s become an enormous field, which has produced thousands of books and dozens of journals. It’s a very exciting and vibrant field—but at the time when I started, there were just a couple of studies that had been published. Among the debates in the field, as mentioned, was the question of how much language is innate versus learned. Snow and her colleagues David Dickinson and Patton Tabors began what has become a landmark study: The Home-School Study of Language and Literacy Development. The idea was to look for a group of families where the children would be at risk for not developing strong literacy skills and determine over time which experiences the families and schools provided that made the biggest difference in children’s development in language, literacy, and reading: We started with a group of eighty or so low-income families with three-year-old children. We visited the families at home and [at school] every year when the children were three, four, and five. And [we’ve] tested the children every year starting when they were five on language and literacy skills. Among the techniques they used were taping family dinnertime conversations, story times, and playtimes, as well as interviewing parents.

I love the idea of taping dinnertime conversations and wonder what ours would have sounded like when our kids were little. Dinnertime was such an important time for all of us to be together. Over the years, three findings from the Snow, Dickinson, and Tabors study have been most predictive of children’s language and literacy skills: While reading books or talking at the dinner table, parents talk about issues that go beyond the here and now. Snow says that this talk involved telling stories or getting the child to respond to questions like “What do you think is going to happen next?” Or “Why do you think that happened?” They used what Snow calls “extended discourse”: Extended discourse means talk about topics that goes on longer than just a sentence or two. So, for example, when these more successful families read books, they didn’t just read the book and then ask questions like “What’s that?” or “What color is it?” They asked questions like “Why do you think [the character in the story] did that?” [They asked] questions that involved the children in analysis, in an evaluation of the book, but also questions that gave them a chance to talk through their understanding of the story. 

They also often encouraged children to tell stories about their own lives that mirrored the stories in the book: “The little bear was scared. Do you remember when you were scared?” The difference between knowing three thousand words and knowing fifteen thousand words when you arrive at kindergarten is enormous. The child who knows three thousand words knows words like shoes and milk and jump. The child who knows fifteen thousand words knows words like choice [and] possibility—words that index a more complex array of possibilities for dealing with the world. Parent-talk does not mean baby talk, talking down to preschool-aged children, or a constant flood of words. Using meaningful, grown-up words with children as they enter the toddler and preschool years helps them learn and appreciate new words. There is support for children’s literacy.  Snow says:These were [families] that had bought children books; that ensured that children [were] read to regularly by parents and by other adults; that had pencils, paper, and crayons around and encouraged children to write. [These were] homes in which the parents themselves also engaged in regular reading, got a daily newspaper, or read magazines or books regularly.

 

Improving Child Literacy - photo 5
Improving Child Literacy

A Parent’s Perspective: Everyday Traditions

 

I started reading to Jimmy when he was about six weeks old. When he was around four months old, we established a bedtime routine that included reading two books aloud. I would tell him that it was “time for books, nursing, night-night.” When he stopped nursing and the routine evolved, it was, “Time for bath, books, night-night.” Eventually we’d make jokes like, “Time for bath, going to the zoo, night-night”—he thought this was hilarious.

Reading was one of our first rituals together. Now we also have a ritual called “family sing.” A couple of times a week, we go into the living room after dinner, play songs on the guitar, and sing. Jimmy plays his own little guitar or drums, or he just sings. “Family sing” has been a nice time to just be together for the purpose of having fun, rather than trying to accomplish anything like eating a meal or getting out the door to preschool, etc. It’s been a good opportunity to talk about taking turns, too. Initially, we let Jimmy choose all the songs, but then we decided that we wanted choices, too.

Preschool also makes a difference. The Home-School Study of Language and Literacy Development found that three quite equivalent factors predicted children’s literacy skills. Catherine Snow summarizes the findings:

  • Teachers use “cognitively engaging talk”:

This is very much like the kind of talk that we saw in homes around books—asking the children to consider hypothetical situations or to make future plans; asking children to talk about their own lives and how these relate to the stories in the books.

  • Teachers use more complex, sophisticated words when talking to children.
  • Teachers have a content-oriented curricular plan:

These were preschools in which the teachers engaged the children in learning about letters and sounds, about the world, and about how to analyze and think.

 

Mind in the Making

The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs

Ellen Galinsky

Read more here

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A Four-Inch-Long Penis Is More Than Adequate

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