Monday, April 20, 2009

The Best Reading Material

Quality literature opens up a door, giving the reader direct communication with its author. That's one reason we should choose books like a connoisseur! They should be deeply interesting, and not dulled down in attempt to make it child friendly. "Imagination does not stir at the suggestion of the feeble, much diluted stuff that is too often put in children's hands... Let a child have the meat he requires in his history readings, and in the literature which naturally gathers round this history, and imagination will bestir itself without any help of ours..."(1)

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Monster in Every Home

   This may be a touchy subject, but I'd like to share it with you anyway because it seems that many people are surprisingly unaware of the many ways television acts as a detriment to children and adults alike, including health problems, learning problems, moral problems, and a general sense of dulling our intelligence. It reduces our attention spans and creates a craving for constant stimulation to the point that reality is no longer sufficient to satisfy. Before you think that's a claim too bold to be true, do me the favor of reading this post. 

Scary Stats
  • The average American watches over 4 1/2 hours of TV per day. This is about 31 hours a week- almost another full time job… and (gulp) approximately 2 entire months per year!
  • The average American home has more TVs than people!
  • American children today will have spent more time watching TV than they have spent in school by the time they reach age 18. The only thing they do more is sleep. (10)
  • There is a direct, negative correlation between number of TV hours watched as a three-year-old and reading ability at age seven. (10)
  • For each hour of daily TV viewed by a child before age three, the risk of ADHD by age seven is increased by 10%. (10)

Health Problems 

"When the engaged lower brain sees the fast-paced flickering of the television set itself... adrenaline is released into your system, your heart rate accelerates, and your blood pressure rises. Since you remain physically passive as this happens, subsequent motor excess results. Motor excess as a direct result of watching television causes difficulty sleeping, diminished ability to concentrate, problems sitting still, and increased anxiety and stress."(10)

Television's irrefutable link to both high blood pressure and being overweight pose a serious health risk to viewers. “Given our national television habit, it is no surprise that we are raising the most sedentary and most overweight generation of youngsters in American history. As they grow, these children will run increased risks of heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems -- unless they turn off the tube and become physically active.” - US Surgeon General David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D.(1)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Reading for Pleasure

There are two basic activities that work together to help literacy skills grow in leaps and bounds. Those two activities are: being read aloud to (by parent and/or teacher), and SSR (Sustained Silent Reading: reading to yourself for pleasure). For more on reading aloud, click here. So what about independent reading, or SSR? The National Reading Panel's 2000 report snubbed the merits of SSR based on very few short-term studies, but long-term studies overwhelmingly show that students who read the most, read the best.(1:85) 

Monday, April 6, 2009

For the Love of Reading... READ ALOUD!!!

"What we teach children to love and desire 
will always outweigh what we make them learn." 

The primary gift of a good education is a love of reading. If you can provide the fuel to ignite this flame in your child, the possibilities are endless. The whole world is within his grasp. Not only is he exposed to different elements of language (rhythm, rhyming, language, sounds) and different topics then what may otherwise come up in conversation, but he is also given the ability to self-teach on any topic that peaks his interest. 

Reading is the foundation for most all other learning. Even if your child is science minded, for example, what good is a seventh grade level science book when he can only read on a fifth grade level? He must learn to read well before he can read to learn. Inadequate reading skills are all too common, and stifle all other learning potential. 

What can you do?