Saturday, October 11, 2008

How to Get Fat Without Trying

This documentary hosted by Peter Jennings is well worth watching for everyone who is interested in childhood nutrition:


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Future of Reading: Using Video Games as Bait to Hook Readers

Today's New York Times article titles "The Future of Reading: Using Video Games as Bait to Hook Readers" focuses on the not-so-recent trends towards trying to use video games and various other forms of technology to interest children in reading.

We have observed a number of children under nine using hand held games such as Nintendo DS, console games, online, or PC based games. For children who are already five or six years old and have no particular proficiency in reading, these games do seem to encourage reading to 1) follow instructions on the screen, 2) read gaming tips and other online forums, 3) blogging give and take with other players including posting of tips and discussions.

The article discusses similar observations, provides excellent quotes from a range of educators, librarians, children, and parents, and has some useful details on books and other new publications that exploit this genre. Definitely worth reading the article!

Regarding games and language development with an eye towards reading ability, the downside seems to be that the fast and exciting pace of games makes it hard for children to develop a spark of interest in reading books if they do not already read fast or well enough to really enjoy the story.

Our solution is to introduce reading using the Montessori approach with Sandpaper Letters, Movable Alphabet sets, and so forth when children are two to three years old, creating an interest and a capability in reading before the topic of games comes up. As always, our curriculum guide information is a useful place to start!

It would be interesting to hear what your experience has been with your own students and children. Send in your comments to share with everyone!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Start teaching your child about money

A simple way to work with your child to teach him or her about money is to include your child when you prepare a grocery list and go to the grocery.

Here are some ideas:
  • Prepare for the trip by having your child put together a list of what we need to buy for a particular cooking project. Go through the fridge and cupboards together and see what is needed. Discuss and decide on ingredients for recipes in the coming weeks (this is also a great way to introduce healthy eating and what it takes to achieve it).
  • Let your child write the list, if he or she is old enough to write. Otherwise, you can write it down.
  • Your child can be responsible for holding onto the list.
  • Go into the grocery store together. Start looking for items. Compare sizes and costs. If the per unit cost of a large container is cheaper, can the item be frozen or stored safely?
  • Show your child how to keep an eye on the register as items are being rung up to make sure the prices and item description is accurate.
  • Pay in cash and count the change.
Keep grocery receipts so that you can start to make a household budget for food with your child. This will help him or her learn how a budget works, see the costs of an additional unplanned purchase, compare the costs of pre-prepared foods versus basic ingredients for cooking at home,
and other useful skills.