Playing with Sounds: Developing Phonological Awareness

When I was in junior high school in the mid-1960s, the musical craze (besides the Beatles) was "The Name Game" written and performed by Shirley Ellis. It is a rhyming song that creates variations on a person's name. For example, using my granddaughter’s name, Jordyn, the song game follows this pattern: “Jordyn, Jordyn, bo-bordyn / Banana-fana fo-fordyn /Fee-Fi-mo-mordyn /Jor-dyn!” In her song, Shirley Ellis claims that there is no name that she can’t rhyme, and she’s right. During that era,…

Encouraging Reluctant Readers: Tips to Get Your Child Excited About Books

We all know the tale of the groundhog who fears his shadow. If he catches a glimpse of it on February 2, he burrows back into his hole and winter weather continues for six more weeks. If he doesn’t see his shadow, spring arrives sooner. Just as the groundhog disappears back underground at the sight of his shadow, some children immediately retreat when they see books. It is our job as parents and educators to coax these reluctant readers out of…

Celebrating Cultures Through Books

‘Tis the season for hustle and bustle: A month with so much to do that we wish for extra hours in the day. But, despite the busyness of December, it also offers us a chance to slow down and spend some extra time with our little ones. There’s no better way to bond with children than through reading, and now is the perfect time for your family to choose books about a variety of cultures and their holiday traditions. “Books,…

Checking in on Your Child’s Literacy: A Conversation with Dr. Robert Needlman

By now, the school year is in full swing and most families are comfortably settled into fall routines. But busy schedules often leave both parents and children running between after-school activities, sporting events, religious classes, and more. Although life can be hectic in the fall, now is a good time for parents to take a moment to check in with their child – and their child’s teacher if need be – about how things are going in regard to reading.…

Hand Jive: Baby Sign Language at Home

For most kids, summertime is an excuse for intellectual sloth. Not for Bennett: He has been learning all summer long. Neuroscience tells us that young children are natural-born learners. In fact, something like 90% of our brain development occurs from birth to age five. School-aged children, by contrast, have to work at learning, which explains why they love summer break. Right now, Bennett's brain is developing at break-neck speed. It seems like he's doing something new every day. Case in…

Making the Most of Your Drive Time

Anyone who has visited Atlanta and driven on the interstates probably knows our great city isn’t the best when it comes to traffic. And I’ll be the first to admit that one of my least favorite things is sitting in the car trying to get from point A to point B. So when my husband and I were house hunting four years ago, our top priority was to live close to our respective offices. We found a great in-town neighborhood,…

Wired for Learning Part 3: Actions Speak Louder Than Words

This is the third of a series of three special blog posts that look at how a young child’s brain is “wired” to learn – be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2 if you missed them. Join me as we share exciting new findings and ways we can support our children’s extraordinary brain development through reading.  Three Generations of Bookworms As a child, I much preferred digging in to a mystery book than helping my mother with…

Wired for Learning Part 2: The Language Tennis Game

This is the second of a series of three special blog posts that look at how a young child’s brain is “wired” to learn – catch up on the first post here. Join me as we share exciting new findings and ways we can support our children’s extraordinary brain development.  Our world today is changing more rapidly than ever – think about how far technology has come just within our lifetime! Twenty years ago, the Internet was a futuristic concept.…

Wired for Learning Part 1: Use It or Lose It

This is the first of a series of three special blog posts that look at how a young child’s brain is “wired” to learn. Join me as we share exciting new findings and ways we can support our children’s extraordinary brain development. When babies are born, their brains are ready to learn. Imagine what newborns are thinking in their first minutes of life as they feel their first human touch, open their eyes to bright lights and new surroundings, hear…
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