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Jul 20

Why You Should Read To Your Young Children

By Dr. Jack Singer | Children and Family , General

Why You Should Read Outloud To Your Children by Dr. Jack SingerReading out loud to children of all ages is very important. It is so helpful in their literacy development and also in their mastery of language. Studies have shown that children that don’t have people reading aloud to them struggle in school and later in life in several areas. We know that to become successful you have to be literate in our society, so it is incumbent upon us to do a better job of helping children at these beginning stages and throughout their development.

Reading out loud to children can expand their vocabularies, foster more vivid imaginations, and help them learn pronunciation skills. Some sentences or sections of books or even whole books may get skipped over if a child is only reading to himself. When the text is beyond the child’s level of literacy, they are much more likely to choose something else to read. So therefore, when children are read to, they are being exposed to literature that they may not be able to evince any interest in.

It can be also good for kids to hear books that are above their own reading levels. They are exposed to sentence structure, words, and concepts that they would not normally encounter on their own. Their brains are being fed and nurtured and they do not even realize it. They are just enjoying the experience of having someone read to them. Not only are you spending some very quality time with the child, but you are building on their literacy development and speaking skills. The experience of the read-aloud time can be a great bonding time between a mother and a child, an older sibling and a younger sibling, or a teacher and her students. They are coming together over a book they both enjoy and sharing a pleasant time together.

When we turn reading into a pleasurable experience like this is so unbelievably good for children, in terms of motivating them to read and to love and enjoy books. So often books turn into ‘just a part of school’ for children, they turn into ‘work’, and many children get really turned off from books because they view reading as a chore and just naturally rebel. Doing all that we can, as their caregivers, to show them how wonderful an experience reading is will do tremendous good in keeping them excited about reading.

Be Consistent

At a certain point during children’s school years, parents and teachers stop reading out loud to kids. Often this happens when the child goes to middle school. Experts suggest that we continue to read to children of all ages. It is a wonderful bonding time we can spend with children and it is still very good for them, even if we – or they – feel they are too old for it. The biggest thing you will be doing is to keep them interested in reading for pleasure. Just like when they were first learning to read and there was that danger of their equating reading with work, the very same thing happens in the teen years. This is true for many teens. There are some who will still read for pleasure, but, they are becoming rare.

Helping our children develop these life-critical skills begins with conversations and a commitment to read aloud every day. And that commitment doesn’t end when they begin school and learn to read. It is imperative that we encourage older children to continue to read. As parents, we must stay attuned to the things that interest them and work hard to help them find reading material that match those interests. We must guide our children to become lifelong readers and lifelong learners. And we can do that at home, with some fun family bonding time. And in so doing, we will also be strengthening our families.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

Jul 18

Is Your Child Resisting Learning How to Read?

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Children and Family , General

Teach Your Kids Reading By Labeling Your House by Dr. Jack SingerThere is a fun and simple way to get your kids started recognizing some basic words. You can do it easily without even having to spend any money. Simply label things in your house. The kids will enjoy getting involved in the ongoing process of labeling things, as well.

You will need some small strips of paper (you might adjust the size according to the item you are labeling), a pair of scissors, a pen or marker, and some tape. Or you can purchase different color Post It notes.

Go through the house room by room, looking for things to label. Say, for instance, you started in the kitchen. Some things in the kitchen you could label are: cabinet, microwave, refrigerator, drawer. Labels will probably not stick on the oven or the dishwasher doors when they heat up – and when the dishwasher blows out steam. There ample opportunities in the kitchen for naming things, though. You could even keep a stack of paper on the counter and when you come back from the store once a week, you and your child can label cereal boxes, cans of soup, etc.

Constant repetition of these basic words will help your child recognize them by sight and can also begin to help with letter recognition. This is a very basic step in the learning to read process and will not help with phonics skills. It is, however, a very important step and a fun way for your child to begin to ‘know’ words on his own.

You and your child can get very creative with all of this labeling, too. As stated before, some of the strips of paper can be different sizes, according to the thing being labeled. The strips of paper can also be arranged on things differently. For example, you can put the word ‘window’ vertically on the middle bar that separates two windows. And on venetian blinds, you can tape the word ‘blinds’ to an individual blind so that it is easily read when the blind is closed in the downward position. Your child will think it is so funny, because, when you open the blind it will be harder to read. And if you close the blind in the upward position, you won’t be able to read it at all.

This is a good way to use the things in your house in the same manner that you would a flashcard. Close the blinds up and quiz your child on the first letter of the word. And if they are advancing even more, you can ask them to spell the word. This could also be done with cabinet doors – open the door all the way so you cannot see the word.

One room that is difficult to label is the bathroom. In common with the dishwasher in the kitchen, the bathroom can be a pretty steamy room. It can be labeled, but just  keep in mind that you will be replacing those labels from time to time.

The best thing about using labels all over the house is that your child will consider it ‘play’. He or shee love to help you cut the paper and hang the labels, making it more like a craft than an educational experience. All the while he’ll be learning an important foundation to a life of literacy – what a great combination!

And be sure to really listen to your child. Each child learns differently and it may well be that your child’s interests are in things that are very difficult to label. Find out what interests your child. Is it butterfly’s or airplanes? How about planting a small garden and helping your child label everything that is planted? The possibilities are limitless and require only your imagination and a close observation of your own child or children. Find out what works for them and do it consistently.  Expose your child to different experiences. Learn together.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

Sep 02

Clapping Hands Sharpens the Brain in Children

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Children and Family , General

Clapping Hands Sharpens the Brains in Children by Dr. Jack SingerDid you know that this simple activity can boost the development of motor and cognitive skills in children ages 6-10? A new study by Ben-Guiron University of the Negev found that children in the first, second and third grades who sing the kind of songs that include clapping of the hands demonstrate skills absent in children who don’t take part in similar activities. According to Dr. Idit Sulkin, of the university’s music science lab, they also found that children who spontaneously perform hand-clapping songs in the schoolyard during recess have neater handwriting, write better and make fewer spelling errors.

Sulkin engaged several elementary school classrooms in a program of either music appreciate or hand clapping songs for 10 weeks. With the hand clapping group, she found that “Within a very short period of time, the children who until then hadn’t take part in such activities caught up in their cognitive abilities to those who did.”

Would you take up an activity, or encourage your children to engage in it, if you knew that it could reduce the risk of dyslexia and dyscalculia, improve cognitive abilities, social integration, handwriting and spelling and make you feel more focused and less tense? Of course you would! So clap with your children and enjoy yourselves.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

I am also available for phone consultations with athletes around the U.S. and in-person visits with athletes in Southern California. Call today toll free at 1-800-497-9880 for a free 20 minute telephone consultation with Dr. Jack Singer.

Jack N. Singer, Ph.D.
Certified and Licensed Sport and Clinical Psychologist
Diplomate, National Institute of Sports Professionals, Division of Psychologists
Diplomate, American Academy of Behavioral Medicine
Certified Hypnotherapist, American Academy of Clinical Hypnosis