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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Early Childhood Learning Tips

On Sunday I had the opportunity to attend an event for the Silicon Valley Moms bloggers sponsored by LeapFrogAnne Cunningham, PhD, an associate professor at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education, was the featured speaker.  She led a fascinating discussion and, since I know many of you out there are parents or have young ones in your life, I wanted to share a few things I learned from Anne.

Talk to your infants and toddlers ALL THE TIME. Riding in the car, around the house, at the store, everywhere.  Exposing them to language is KEY to getting them started on the right track to being good readers. All of that talking you do is benefiting them enormously!

Young children need huge doses of language and huge amounts of print exposure. Read them books, every day.  Let them listen to books on tape.  Whatever…just get them exposed to books and language!

Readers trump smart people. Anne talked about how there is IQ and there is INTELLIGENCE.  She believes intelligence is something you can grow and develop.  She mentioned that her Berkeley freshman are all geniuses.  But the ones who do best are the ones who read the most, even if their IQs are technically lower than someone else’s. So interesting.

All of this reading and talking is exposing your children to rare and unique words. That’s what you want to do.  That’s why books are so important.  We tend to “dummy down” our oral language.  When you read books, you are exposing your kids (and yourself!) to words that we may not use on a regular basis, but that they do need to know in order to do well.

Anne has done many studies regarding these issues and it was fascinating to see the impact that reading can have on a young mind and success in academics.  My biggest takeaway was that I need to TALK and READ to my girls as much as I can and, that even at the infant stages, it’s benefiting my children.  This might seem obvious on some level, but it’s definitely something to think about!

Of course the discussion was much longer and more involved than what I’m sharing here.  I could type all day!  But I thought these few points were really interesting AND actionable.

PS: LeapFrog gave us all a few toys for our kids to try out.  Cate received the TAG reading system.  It’s awesome.  And she can’t get enough of it.  I was very impressed with LeapFrog and their products.  Education is their primary goal, which is good to hear from a toy company…and I really believe them.  Okay, plug over, but I really was impressed, so I wanted to share! 🙂  Oh, and here’s a coupon code for you!  Receive $10 off any order of $50 or more at – enter promotinal code HY8BHPR at checkout! (Code expires 11/15/08)


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    Everything she said reminds me of a book by Jim Trelease called The Read-Aloud Handbook. It is an awesome book that gives the research behind reading aloud to your children. Despite being so research based it is an extremely readable book. I think every parent should read it. I made my sister read while she was pregnant and, as a result, she started reading to my nephew as soon as he was born. Jim Trelease also has a website:
    I am a grad student in Speech Language Pathology and also have degrees in Elementary and Early Childhood Education, so I am a huge advocate of promoting literacy and language in children. Thanks for the post!!!

  2. What an amazing event – we’re just beginning to dig into our goodies. My current favorite is this fridge magnet phone thing that records their voice and lets it play in songs. So clever.

  3. I believe I was promised a quiche recipe? Cough it up Jane.

  4. 4
    Jane Maynard

    michelle – I’ll have to remember to check out that book, and I’ll definitely go visit the website. thank you!

    chefdruck – will totally have to check that leapfrog toy out – sounds fun! 🙂

    natalee – quiche? what quiche? 😛

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