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Archive for the ‘Language development’ Category

“Singing—much like rhyming—is a special form of language that improves children’s memory, and teaches them rhythm and melody. Brain research has shown that when children are sung to, both the left and right sides of their brains are activated, strengthening their neural connections. Singing can also teach children new vocabulary words.

“But children don’t get the same benefits from listening to a CD or musical video. According to Sally Goddard Blythe, director of the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology, the benefits to brain development occurs best when a parent or caregiver sings directly to, and with, a young child.”

“Even Singing Off Key Can Bring a Smile to Children’s Faces,” a blog post on the website Too Small to Fail, March 11, 2015

(And parents, don’t just sing to your child, think about how they can participate in the song.)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Researchers know that talking to babies helps their vocabularies grow. The more words infants hear the better. But studies show that in addition to more words, babies benefit from hearing more complex words. And as children grow, parents can help by having more “abstract” conversations.

Meredith Rowe, a Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) professor, explains her findings on language development in an interview posted on HGSE’s “Usable Knowledge” website.

“We’ve known for a while that the quantity of input matters. I think the shift to a focus on quality rather than quantity was a natural next step in the field,” Rowe explains, adding:

“It is much easier to send a message about quantity, but if we know that quality trumps quantity, statistically, then perhaps we can really try and change the message to be more about having high-quality conversations with children rather than just ‘talking a lot.’”  (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

This month, a National Geographic article explores “Baby Brains,” looking at the factors that hinder or help infants’ neurological development.

“Peering inside children’s brains with new imaging tools, scientists are untangling the mystery of how a child goes from being barely able to see when just born to being able to talk, ride a tricycle, draw, and invent an imaginary friend by the age of five,” the article explains. “The more scientists find out about how children acquire the capacity for language, numbers, and emotional understanding during this period, the more they realize that the baby brain is an incredible learning machine. Its future—to a great extent—is in our hands.”

The article adds: “The amount of brain activity in the earliest years affects how much there is later in life.” A picture of the EEG scans of eight-year-olds shows “that institutionalized children who were not moved to a nurturing foster care environment before they were two years old have less activity than those who were.” Again, early nurturing was essential for building brains.  (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

This post was originally published on March 5, 2014. 

A new report published by the Society for Research in Child Development — “Multilingual Children: Beyond Myths and Toward Best Practices” — focuses on “the strength of being multilingual and its benefit for children’s later outcomes and well-being.”

Endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the report draws on more than 100 studies. “The qualitative review concludes that multilingualism is an advantage to be nurtured and maintained rather than a risk factor to be eradicated early in a child’s life,” Education Week explains in a recent review of the report.

In the Education Week piece, Allyssa McCabe, a lead author and a psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, debunks two myths covered in the report. (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Full-day preschool programs just got some good news. A new research study found that children who attend full-day programs are more school-ready than those who attend half-day programs.

“This is the first study to comprehensively examine the results of lengthening the preschool day and it has national implications, when only half of students who enter kindergarten each year are fully prepared,” study co-author Arthur Reynolds says in a University of Minnesota news release. Reynolds is a professor at the university’s Institute of Child Development.

According to the news release, “Reynolds says that early childhood education programs have long been known to be key to preparing children for later school success. Now, however, he sees the bigger question to be the effect of increased learning time in early childhood education programs.”

The study — published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association — looked at children in 11 Chicago schools during the 2012-2013 school year. The children were a “nonrandomized, matched-group cohort of predominantly low-income, ethnic minority children.” Of these, 409 were enrolled in the Child-Parent Centers (CPC) for a full, seven-hour day. And 573 were enrolled in part-day programs that ran on average for three hours.  (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

This post was originally published on November 25, 2013.

“The time is now to redesign this country’s approach to language and literacy instruction, and governors who choose to can lead the charge,” according to the National Governors Association (NGA) report, “A Governor’s Guide to Early Literacy: Getting all Students Reading by Third Grade.

Acknowledging the fact that only one-third of America’s fourth graders are reading proficiently, the report points out that America’s governors can help address this challenge. They can build a bridge between knowledge and action, connecting what researchers know to what policymakers do.

What the Research Says

To provide the research background on the literacy issue, the report points to three widely accepted research findings:

1. “Starting at kindergarten is too late.” Because literacy skills start developing at birth and because achievement gaps show up early, infants, toddlers and preschoolers need effective, high-quality early education and care programs that introduce early literacy concepts.
(more…)

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The Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) has an engaging video series on its website called “8 x 8” that gives viewers access to the latest thinking on education policy.

“As part of the Bold Ideas & Critical Conversations event on September 19, eight HGSE faculty members were each given eight minutes to discuss research-based ideas that will have a big impact on the field,” the website explains.

It’s like a mini collection of TED talks on education.

The eight faculty members who speak are:

- Karen Brennan, whose research looks at how learning communities can support young people as designers of interactive media

- Howard Gardner – senior director of Harvard’s Project Zero

- Tom Kane – faculty director of the Center for Education Policy Research

- Nonie Lesaux, author of “Turning the Page: Refocusing Massachusetts for Reading Success,” a report commissioned by Strategies for Children

(more…)

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