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Helping Kids Learn – The Hard Way, The Easy Way

October 28, 2013
Plain English Version

Once again, recent studies tell us what we have known for two decades.

Talking to your kids is the best way to get them ready to learn to read.

How much money the parents make seems to matter. Wealthier parents speak thousands more words to their children every day when compared with lower-income parents.

Words that matter are not from television sets or adult conversations. Parents should simply talk to kids about the weather or what they are eating. Talk to them about sizes and shapes. Explain stop signs. These practices put kids in a learning mode. They create curiosity and comfort with language.

If, by the third grade, children are not reading at grade level, it is likely they will never catch up.

Because lower-income parents do not talk with their kids as much as higher-income parents do, there are constant calls for pre-Kindergarten (pre-K) programs to make up the difference. Education experts agree that early childhood schooling does reduce some of the difference.

Others worry that pre-K programs with poorly paid and trained teachers will not solve language deficiency problems. For example, programs that just use flash cards to drill vocabulary into youngsters do not teach learning.

Demands for better ways of learning are being heard all over the nation. The new Common Core Standards are meant to raise the bar for what is believed to be essential knowledge for kids to know by the fourth grade.

The gap between the richer and poorer kids does not seem to change. It is unclear why not. With access to computers and the Internet, it was thought that education would become available to all and could potentially “level the playing field”.

Parents still are the cheapest education program. Again, talk to your kids!

Source: The New York Times                                                                                                      October 21, 2013

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