I am delighted to tell you that our programs are expanding and we have now are offering the reading materials as an online reading program at www.readingkingdom.com. You can continue to purchase Phonics Plus Five reading kit from this site, but it is also available, along with additional reading materials, at the Reading Kingdom online store. So this will be my last entry on this blog. But it is by no means the end of my blogging. I am now blogging at the Reading Kingdom. http://readingkingdom.com/blog/ Hope to see you there.
For decades, observers have commented on the way in which school practices are geared for girls rather than boys. For example, schools are based on a child sitting for long periods of time and girls tend to be more willing and able to meet that demand. Issues like these are thought to be related to the fact that boys are more likely to be medicated for attention problems and learning disorders, and more likely to be held back or disciplined for behavior problems.
Now a school in California is planning to make major changes into practices that have for so long been the mainstay of most classrooms.
reading "A School That Welcomes Gender Differences" »
A recent report from the US Department of Agriculture offers some eye popping statistics on the costs of raising a child. Based on a study of 11,800 husband-wife families and 3,350 single-parent households, the price tag for middle class parents on raising one child through the age of 17 is $222,360. And those costs have been steadily rising. For example, adjusted for 2009 dollars, middle-income parents in 1960 spent a total of $182,857
reading "Child Rearing: An Expensive Proposition" »
Any parent faced with the challenges of funding higher education for their child will find important information in a new report recently released by Georgetown University that is titled Help Wanted: Projection of Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018.
It is generally accepted that more future jobs will require advanced education. For example, in 1973, nine percent of jobs required a bachelor’s degree. By 2018, that figure is expected to be 23 percent. But the report finds that colleges are not doing enough to prepare their students for the projected workforce.
reading "College Education and the Job Market: Change is in the Air" »
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition which now affects three to seven percent of school-aged children, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is an astronomically large number of children.
Now a report from the HealthDay Reporter indicates that exposure to high levels of pesticides, commonly found on berries, celery and other produce, could raise the odds for children developing this condition.
reading "Pesticides and Attentional Problems" »
A while back, I wrote about the amazing directional skills of London cab drivers. To be eligible for that job, drivers have to know, without having to refer to any maps or devices such as GPS, the location of every single street in their very large and complicated city. The benefit for passengers is enormous--since they can feel confident in relying on a driver getting them smoothly and accurately to any and all destinations. There is another benefit as well. Development of this skill leads to measurable changes in brain activity
Now there is another study from England--but this one represents the "other side of the spectrum." It seems that a fifth of children now have no idea where they live - because they no longer walk to school.
reading "Location, Location, Location--Knowing Your Way Around" »
In a column on May 10th in the New York Times, columnist Ross Douthat offered some interesting information that, in one way or another, applies to all of us. Titled Red Family, Blue Family, Douthat starts by stating that "Fifty years ago, American family structures were remarkably uniform. The rich married at roughly the same rate as the poor and middle class. Divorce rates were low for the college educated and high school graduates alike. Out-of-wedlock births, while more common among African-Americans, were rare in almost every region and community."
reading "Family Life in the 21st Century" »
Schools started out with the mission to teach the "3 R's." But it didn't stay that way for long. In its role as the major agency for children, each decade brings new assignments that it must fulfill--from teaching driving education to learning methods of negotiating aggression.
One of these expanded functions has included nutrition as millions of children each day consume "the school lunch." The original aim was the noble one of decreasing hunger. But now, the constituents of that lunch have seem to have contributed significantly to the rise of obesity in the nation.
As a result, Congress is now considering a bill to make certain that whatever lands on those cafeteria trays is nutritious and safe to eat.
reading "School Lunches: About to Change?" »
A new international study from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has found that a rise in test scores, even a relatively modest rise, has important consequences for the economy. Were a rise in student achievement to occur, the analysis projects that the nation could see growth of nearly $41 trillion in its GDP.
reading "Academic Achievement: It Really Matters" »
Deborah Szekely is an outstanding woman, long recognized as a, if not the, founder of the modern health and fitness movement. She has served on health and fitness councils under a variety of presidents. Recently she teamed up with Dr. David Kessler, author of The End of Overeating, to write about health care reform. Their ideas --if put into action, will --at little cost--do more for health care than all the versions of the bills now being debated in Congress.
They start from the premise that we'll never control health care costs until we halt the nationwide epidemic of overeating, lack of exercise, and obesity. Currently, among America's children -- nearly one in three youngsters, from age 2 to 19, is overweight, and approximately 17% are dangerously obese.
But that does not mean that things cannot change. And, interestingly, they see children as the ones who can lead the way.
reading "Ensuring Our Children's Health: It Can Be Done" »
In our fast paced society, sleep deprivation among school age children, particularly adolescents, is a well-known phenomenon. Now a school in Tyneside England has set the schedule so that the school day starts later--at 10AM to be precise. The school has launched a five-month experiment that has the backing of pupils, teachers and parents.
reading "Schools That Are Becoming Flexible About Sleep" »
In a program known as Race to the Top, the federal government is coaxing states to change policies by offering them chances to get a cut of $5 billion in educational grants. One of the major goals is to tie teacher pay to student performance.
As always, money talks. For example, Wisconsin lawmakers are voting this week to lift a ban on using student test scores to judge teachers. Nine other states have taken similar steps, even though states can't apply for the money yet and only a few states may end up getting grants.
reading "Racing to the Top -- But Taking the Wrong Path" »
Nicholas Kristof, a columnist for the New York Times had a column this week that gave us a graphic picture of the price that our nation is paying for the current foreign policy. It is summarized in the sentence, "For the cost of an additional soldier stationed in Afghanistan for a year, nearly 20 schools could be built."
reading "Getting a New Perspective on Our Options" »
The New York Times announced today that the Walt Disney Company is offering refunds for all those “Baby Einstein” videos that did not make children into geniuses. As the paper reports, the videos "may have been a great electronic baby sitter, but the unusual refunds appear to be a tacit admission that they did not increase infant intellect."
Susan Linn, director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which has been pushing the issue for years was understandably pleased, seeing it "as an acknowledgment by the leading baby video company that baby videos are not educational."
reading "Baby Einstein: A Brilliant Term Crushed by Reality" »
Julia Steiny, a former member of the Providence School Board, recently wrote a piece entitled: Good luck trying to succeed as a kid in America. In it, she covers a report from the ODEC, a Paris-based organization that collects and monitors statistics on 30 industrialized countries.
ODEC often reports test score. But this time, in a report titled “Doing Better for Children” it examines child well-being with the focus on poverty, teen-parenting, environmental quality, and telling measures like whether kids have desks, calculators and other basic tools to do schoolwork at home.
To give you a hint of what is to come, forty-eight percent of U.S. children do not have the basic tools to do their homework. (The ODEC average is 35.) Overall, the statistics are appalling.
reading "America's Children: Our Future Is In The Balance" »
When we were children, exhortations to do our work were regularly accompanied by the adage "practice makes perfect." Today, I in a radio interview with Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code, I heard a new and fascinating twist on this idea. Coyle's thesis is that through reinforcement - 'deep practice' as he calls it - particularly when it is accompanied by the opportunity to make mistakes that we can learn from - our brain develops pathways that become more efficient.
reading "Talent! Is It Only "Practice Makes Perfect?"" »
The Washington Post today has an amazing story today. It starts as follows "Students starting school this year may be part of the last generation for which "going to college" means packing up, getting a dorm room and listening to tenured professors. Undergraduate education is on the verge of a radical reordering. ...The business model that sustained private U.S. colleges cannot survive."
reading "Colleges! Are They Going the Way of the Dinosaurs?" »
The USA today reported the surprising, but uplifting, finding of a study of higher graduation rates. Many students may fail to complete a bachelor's degree not because the work is too hard — but because they're not challenged enough.
reading "Harder is Better! An Intriguing Finding" »
Sixty five years ago today, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 — better known as the GI Bill. It’s been heralded as one of the most important pieces of legislation to ever come out of Washington. This single measure alone helped build the middle class for which post World War II America was renowned. It did it by puting a college education and home ownership within reach of millions of veterans returning home after the war.
reading "An Anniversary Worth Remembering-the GI Bill" »
If you have a teen age child or know someone who does, high school is likely to be an important topic. If so, you may find it helpful to turn to the latest report on the top 1500 high schools in the U.S. The public schools are ranked according to a ratio which takes into account such factors as the number of Advanced Placements relative to the number of graduating seniors. All of the schools on the list are in the top 6 percent of public schools measured this way.
First on the list? A school aptly titled Talented and Gifted in Dallas Texas. For the complete list, go to http://www.newsweek.com/id/201160
English is said to contain more words than any other language on the planet. (Mandarin Chinese comes in second with about 450,000 words.) And this week, our mother tongue added its millionth word--Web 2.0! The term refers to the second, more social generation of the Internet. Given that over a dozen words are added to our language on a daily basis, it seems fitting that the landmark word identified this week deals with something that is so representative of the modern age.
The arrival was announced by the Global Language Monitor, a Web site that uses a math formula to estimate how often words are created. Of course, claims like this do not go unchallenged.
reading ""Web 2.0"-A Celebration for the English Language" »
In contrast to much of the world, Australia is vast in area, but relatively sparse in population. So back in 2004, the then treasurer Peter Costello urged his fellow country men and women to procreate for their nation. He encapsulated his plea in the statement "one for mum, one for dad and one for your country." But he did not rely on words alone. He had a stimulus package to offer--$3000 per baby.
The results? Amazing.
reading "A Somewhat Different Government Bonus" »
We all "know" that we regularly face phenomenal changes in so many aspects of life. But here are a few facts that illustrate just how profound and wide-ranging the changes are:
The 25% of India's population with the highest IQs is greater than the total population of the US (meaning that India has more honors kids than America has kids).
If you are one in a million in China, there are 1300 people just like you.
The top ten in-demand jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004.
The US Department of Labor estimates that today's learner will have 10 to 14 jobs by the time they are 38 years of age.
reading "The World: It Is A-Changing!" »
For some time, the issue of mercury in vaccinations has been of major concern. It was brought to the fore by parents of chilren with autism who reported that the disorder appeared after their children received vaccinations containing mercury.
But concerns are not limited to the issue of autism. Many parents are worried about the role that vaccines play in affecting their children’s health. And the analysis of new vaccines indicates that their concerns are justified.
reading "Toxic Vaccines ??" »
A new report from England has found that 1,300 girls who received the cervical cancer vaccine last year have experienced adverse side-effects. The vaccine is given to those who are quite young--12 and 13 years-since it is deemed to be most effective if given before any sexual encounters have taken place.
A total of more than 700,000 girls were vaccinated last year. Many have called for the suspension of the program. But supporters of the vaccine are claiming the adverse effects are within an acceptable range. The definition of acceptable though is worrying--with the reported symptoms
reading "Concerns About the Safety of Cervical Cancer Vaccine for Girls" »
When we were kids, our elders were always telling us to "eat fish, carrots, green vegetables" and the like. Naturally, we resisted --but thankfully, those foods steadily made their way into our diets.
Now that is often not the case. The poor quality of the diets of American children is playing a major role in the epidemic of childhood obesity and diabetes that is sweeping our nation. Fortunately, more and more families and schools are becoming aware of the problem and taking action. The Appleton Wisconsin High School offers a dramatic example of what has been happening and how systems can be changed for the better.
reading "We Are What We Eat: It's As True Now As It Ever Was" »
Some years ago, there was an appealing film titled Hope and Glory. It told one boy's memories of growing up in London during the blitz of World War II. In one scene depicting the warning sirens of an air raid, the children respond with glee--it means that they are getting out of class because they have to get into the bomb shelters.
Fortunately, our situation is not as bad as the devastation of a war. But many children in the United States are about to have some of their wishes fulfilled about getting out of class. The reason?
reading "Cutting the School Week: A Child's Dream or A Parent's Nightmare" »
As we all know, school budgets are shrinking. In an effort to deal with the shortfall, schools are going down a controversial, but little known, path. They are getting money from cell phone tower installations.
reading "Schools and Cell Phones: A Hidden Connection" »
Every year, there is a study of which cities (with populations over 250,000) offer the best "culture and resources for reading." Once again, just as they have done for the past several years, Minneapolis and Seattle top the list.
reading "Want To Live Among People Who Like to Read?" »
A recent study in the journal Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health reported that children in the US are about three times more likely to be prescribed psychotropic medications such as antidepressants than children in Europe.
reading "U.S. Children--Why Do They Receive So Much More Medication?" »
The Education Trust, a children's advocacy group, has conducted a study showing that, relative to their parents, children today are less likely to graduate from high school. In fact, the United States is now the only industrialized country where young people are less likely than their parents to earn a diploma.The drop out rates have been, and continue to be, staggering.
reading "High School Graduation: The Rates are Declining!" »
We are all used to reading lists from schools--which cite the books that students are expected to read. But many of those same books are on other lists as well. Every years, public libraries see hundreds of requests to ban books
reading "Banning Books: It's Scary But Things Are Improving" »
Today, on its front page, the New York Times had a story about a school in Sacramento California that has, until now, not missed a testing target since the federal No Child Left Behind law took effect in 2002. The law requires every American school to bring all students to proficiency in reading and math by 2014.
The school contains a wide array of students — Hispanics, blacks, Asians, whites, American Indians, Filipinos, Pacific Islanders, English learners, the disabled. Over all, the number of its students passing tough statewide tests had increased by more than three percentage points annually, a solid record.
But this year, California schools were required to make what experts call a gigantic leap. They had to increase the students proficient in every group by 11 percentage points. For the first time, this school fell short. They are, by no means, alone. This year, about half the state’s 9,800 schools fell short. The failure results in probation and, unless reversed, federal sanctions within a year.They are, by no means, alone. This year, about half the state’s 9,800 schools fell short.
reading "No Schools Are Spared as 'No Child’ Wreaks Its Havoc" »
A teacher in the mid-West realized the obvious: that telling kids to “sit still and quit fidgeting” did not do much good. So, like bookkeepers in the era of Charles Dickins, she has the students using new, adjustable-height stand-up desks that don’t ever require them to sit still.
reading "Standing Up to the Demands of the Classroom" »
The BBC in England recently announced that 11-year-olds in schools around Britain will receive free cookbooks. The goal is to help tackle the obesity epidemic that, just as in our country, is overtaking the youth there. The head of schools in the government said that the goal is to have everyone be able to prepare basic, nutritious dishes from scratch--in contrast to the current pride that exists in not being able to cook properly.
reading "A Recipe for Success?" »
When I was a child, several of my older relatives were illiterate (no small factor in my going into the line of work that I chose). And I recall that when they had to write a letter, they went to a "scribe" --one of the more learned people in the neighborhood. There, they would dictate what they had to say and he (it always seemed to be a "he") would put their words on paper. Then the letter would sent on its way.
It's been a long time since I heard the word "scribe" but I came across it recently in a British newspaper, The Independent, which reported that thousands of teenagers need "scribes" to help them write their exams because they are incapable of answering questions in longhand themselves.
reading "Bad Handwriting? If It's Any Comfort, The USA Is Not Alone" »
Congress has given the go-ahead for a new center to explore ways advanced computer and communications technologies can improve learning. It is called the National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies and it will focus on "bringing education into the 21st century."
reading "Congress Gives Boost to High Tech Learning in the Classroom" »
With cuts all around us in education, it's interesting to see one field taking off. It is the hiring of teachers who know Chinese. Recognizing the growing power of China on the world stage, schools around the country and seeking to expand their programs, particularly in Mandarin, the main Chinese dialect.
But, they are not finding it easy to create these programs.There simply are not enough competent teachers around to teach the language.
reading "One Thing on the Rise--A Need for Teachers of Chinese" »
Last month. both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees approved versions of an appropriations bill which funds federal education programs. Both versions end funding for Reading First, the program which supports a set of reading efforts in grades K-3. If the bill passes in its current form, Congress will have cut funding for PK-3 literacy by $1 billion over two years.
reading "Funds To Be Cut for Reading Education" »
As we all know only too well, the U.S. dollar has been losing its value. But there is a bit of a silver lining to this painful situation. As the dollar plunges, the cost of college for many foreign students also drops, bringing many overseas students to our shores.
With American universities widely considered the best in the world, our universities have suddenly emerged as a bargain for a growing number of international students. The influx is expected to reverse the declines in foreign student enrollment that followed September 11, 2001.
reading "More Overseas Students Coming to the US" »
Regular readers of my blog know that my main concerns are in education and in enhancing education so that children's skills blossom. But there is a range of ancillary issues that plays a big role in accomplishing this goal.
One of those issues concerns the health of children. That is where electronic smog comes in. It is the term that has been created to capture the fact that the electricity that powers our civilization gives off a range of effects that appear to be dangerous.Scientific evidence has begun to show that it may be causing cancer and miscarriages as well as making some people allergic to modern life.
reading "Electronic Smog: What Is It? and Why Should We Be Concerned?" »
Like all of us, schools around the nation are feeling the effects of high gas prices. As but one example, Nash-Rocky Mount schools in North Carolina burned through about $729,000 in fuel in the last fiscal year — nearly twice as much as in the previous year.
In an effort to cope, schools are coming up with a range of strategies--all of which involve cutting services. In Minnesota, for instance, one district plans to eliminate classes every Monday to come up with the extra $65,000 it needs to fill its buses' tanks. The superintendent commented "I know $65,000 may not sound like a lot, but it's more than one teaching position,"
reading "Schools Feel the Clutches of Higher Gas Prices" »
High school graduates are not the only ones waiting for college acceptance letters. Increasingly, the older generation is in the same boat. At California State University, Sacramento, for example, the number of students between the ages of 50 and 64 grew by 76 percent from 1986 to 2006.
Across the state, the number of California college students between the ages of 50 and 64 rose 61 percent between 1986 and 2006. Among people ages 40 to 49, enrollment increased 32 percent. Overall enrollment climbed 33 percent during the same two decades.
reading "Older Students Filling California College Campuses" »
As a four year old, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was reported to "play faultlessly and with the greatest delicacy" Behavior like that makes musical talent intriguing and mysterious.
Given that certain families produce abundant numbers of musicians, scientists have long suspected that talent in this realm music might have genetic roots. Now research indicates that they may be right. Scientists in Finland say they’ve found approximate locations in our genome where genes affecting musical talent may lie. The findings suggest not only that musical ability is partly genetic but it may share evolutionary roots with language.
reading "Musical Genes? They May Even Tell Us Something About Dyslexia" »
We hear over and over again about the problems in American education. Unfortunately, dire warnings have become so commonplace that we often don't pay them much heed. But Bob Herbert, a columnist in the New York Times, has offered some facts and figures that should make us take notice.
An American kid drops out of high school every 26 seconds.
More than a million drop out every year.
These are among the highest dropout rates in the industrialized world. Roughly a third of all American high school students drop out. Another third graduate but are not prepared for the next stage of life — either productive work or some form of post-secondary education.
Think about it! Two-thirds of all teenagers old enough to graduate from high school are leaving, without the skills to negotiate the modern world.
reading "Education in America: An Institution in Crisis" »
If you were buying a car and found one that had a 70% chance of ranging from fair to downright bad, you would almost certainly turn away. But that level of performance is being welcomed by officials when it comes to the writing skills of American students.
According to a new national study, about a third of the nation’s eighth-grade students are proficient writers. The results are even worse for high school seniors where only roughly a quarter achieve this level. The results are about the same as those in 2002, when a similar exam was last given.
A success rate of 30% may not sound like much--and indeed, it isn't. But it is the best performance by eighth-grade students in any subject tested in the national assessment in the last three years. For example, only 17 percent of eighth graders were proficient on the 2006 history exam, for example.
reading "Writing with Proficiency --30% Success Is Welcomed!!!" »
You don't have to be told that the current economic situation is causing enormous difficulties. But, as often happens, there are some silver linings. For example, many state colleges and universities are reducing their out-of-state tuition for students.
One place where this is happening is California State University located near San Francisco Bay. It is trying to raise its profile to lure applicants from a variety of Western states including Washington, Oregon, and Montana. Many other state universities across the nation are following a similar path.
reading "Some Benefit to the Economic Pain?" »
The high cost of education steadily draws headlines, as parents struggle to finance their children's college education and towns grapple with ever-increasing school budgets. In all the turmoil, the cost of not educating America's children goes largely ignored.
Now the Brookings Institute has come out with a new book: The Price We Pay: Economic and Social Consequences of Inadequate Education. It highlights the enormous costs--private, fiscal, and public--of not providing an adequate education for all our children.
reading "The Price of Poor Education" »
Most of the families whom I meet in the course of my work are knowledgeable about health issues and concerned about what their children are encountering in the course of daily life.
A new report from the Associated Press is an example of why their concerns are justified. It found that a vast array of pharmaceuticals â€” including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones â€” are in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans.
Fortunately, the concentrations of the pharmaceuticals are tiny, and far below the levels of a medical dose.
But the presence of so many prescription drugs â€” and over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen â€” in so much of our drinking water is heightening worries among scientists of long-term consequences to human health.
reading "Drinking Water--Some Troubling News" »
If you have a child, or know of a child, who is awaiting the "verdicts" on college applications, you know the pressure and anxiety that accompanies the process. Each year, for the past several years, the tension has been increasing. But all that is likely to ease--though not in time to help out this year's contingent. Specifically, the demographics are changing.
After a 15 year period of steady growth, the annual number of high school graduates in the United States will peak at about 2.9 million. The number is then expected to decline until about 2015. Most universities expect this to translate into fewer applications and with that, less selectivity. As a result, most students are like to find it easier to get into college.
reading "Hold On--The College Frenzy Is Going to Pass" »
A leading psychiatrist from Trinity College in Dublin, Michael Fitzgerald, has put forth the idea that many leading figures in the fields of science, politics and the arts achieved success because they had a form of autism known as Asperger's syndrome. Included in his list are such towering figures as Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, George Orwell, H G Wells and Ludwig van Beethoven.
reading "Is There Genius in Autism?" »
As parents know only too well, America's children aren't reading very much or very well these days. Concerns about the situation keep growing as scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress have shown little improvement in the past 15 years.
In an effort to turn matters around, the Library of Congress and the Children's Book Council, a trade group, announced the appointment of the USA's first "ambassador for young people's literature," a sort of poet laureate for the Harry Potter set.
As the inaugural ambassador, they named Jon Scieszka--a renowned author of 30 books.
reading "An Ambassador for Children's Reading" »
At a number of schools in the poorer sections of New York City, students are being paid to do well on citywide exams in reading and math. Seventh-graders earn up to $750 and fourth-graders up to $250. This is all part of the Spark Program--part of Mayor Bloomberg's ant-poverty initiative.
As you might imagine, the idea is generating lots of discussion---and controversy.
reading "Paying Students to Learn? Good Idea?" »
The many families who struggle with the nightly homework ritual might will be interested in a new Canadian study involving almost 1000 families. It reports that, at least at the elementary school level, homework offers a double whammy. It's of little value to the children while leading to burn out in the children and their parents. At the older grades, things were different with benefits shown for students in grades 7 and 8 and high school.
Significantly, the findings do not include reading. Indeed, reading with, or to, children every day has been shown to be a key factor in boosting academic success.
reading "Homework: Questions about its Value" »
One of the remarkable advances in the last several decades has been the growing understanding and acceptance of individuals with learning disabilities. As we know from major figures such as Paul Orfalea, the founder of Kinko's and Charles Schwab, the investment banker along with many others, individuals with learning disabilities can be enormously talented and make phenomenal contributions.
As part of the growing acceptance that has been taking place, The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) holds a "Portraits of LD" competition. The grand prize winner will win a trip to New York City along with other treats. In addition, two runners-up will be chosen to receive a cash prize of $200 each, while selected submissions will be showcased on the LD.org Web site and showcased at the annual benefit dinner of the society.
The competition is open to all children, teens and adults with LD. But there is not a lot of time left to enter. The deadline is February 8th. So if you, or someone you know, might be interested, go to
for further information.
As parents know only too well, higher education in our country is expensive and becoming more expensive each year.
At the same time, modern nations know that if they are to have a productive population, they need to have a highly educated citizenry. That is why Ireland, over a decade ago, abolished tuition fees for all citizens in the European Union. This has been one of the key factors in the phenomenal economic transformation that has taken place in that country.
But back to the USA.
reading "Is College in Your Child's Future?" »
We've been told a lot about the problems stemming from the American diet. But, as always, a picture is worth a thousand words. Through these beautiful images, we can see in brilliant color, how far we've come in relying on processed foods and how spectacularly attractive natural fresh food is.
Of course, none of this should affect the feasts you are going to have during the holiday season. But perhaps these images will lead you to actions that will expand food supplies to those in need--in our nation and abroad.
And once the holidays are past, perhaps you'll turn back to these photos and let them lead you to some New Year's resolutions about revamping the family fare. (The photos you will be seeing are the work of Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio. I encourage you to visit their site to check out their other great photography and photo projects -
reading "Some Amazing Images of Families Fare Around the World" »
A major issue in modern day life is the growing number of serious health problems besieging children and their families. Asthma, autism, attention deficit disorder are only a few of the worrisome syndromes that are on the rise.
Health professionals and environmentalists are trying to determine the reasons for the increase. One area that is increasingly in the spotlight involves industrial chemicals. They include chemicals used in clothing, cleaning products, furniture--to name just a few. These substances are so inextricably woven into our lives that we are generally not aware of them.
But, in line with a recent CNN headline, it is clear that we ought to be. The headline read Tests reveal high chemical levels in kids' bodies It showed not simply that the chemicals are accumulating in our bodies. It also showed that children often have chemical exposure levels that are massively higher than those of their parents. This news is particularly disturbing since children up to six years old are most at risk. Their vital organs and immune system are still developing and hence they are far more vulnerable to environmental dangers.
reading "Knowledge Can Be Upsetting--But It Can Also Be Empowering" »
Parents today are keenly aware of how important early environment is determining a child's future development. They rightly put in lots of time and effort into providing the caring environment that children need if they are to flourish.
But, as always, there are exceptions to the rule. A few decades back, James Anthony, a child psychiatrist, focused on the exceptions when he proposed the idea of the "invulnerable child." Here he was referring to the small, but amazing group of children who are raised by mentally ill mothers. While most of their peers in comparable situations suffer greatly, these children end up as super-competent. Their resilience is remarkable and like the Cinderella story, it gives hope that we can overcome what appears to be an awful destiny.
Last week, we saw a real life version of the story in one of the men who are awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine. His name is Mario Capecchi.
reading "The Invulnerable Child and the Nobel Prize--Where's the Connection?" »
Laptops are a fabulous tool. But precisely because they are so useful, students rely on them more and more. A recent report from the Guardian newspaper in England shows that this is leading to some problems. Specifically, students who regularly use laptops are being found to have persistent neck, back, shoulder and wrist pain.
reading "Laptops Can Sometimes Be a Pain" »
The Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL) announced an art contest that is open to students nationwide from preK to grade 12. The contest theme is â€œEducation and My Futureâ€ and the goal is to give children the opportunity to let us see education through their eyes. The deadline for entries is November 1, 2007.
You can get additional information at http://www.sedl.org/artcontest/SEDL_ArtContest.pdf. Questions about the contest may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The message you just read is, at the very least, disturbing. And coming, as it does, from a reliable newspaper, the Guardian in England, it's not one that can easily be dismissed.
But knowledge is power. And the article offered lots of valuable information for parents on what is happening and what they--and you--might do.
reading "Danger to Children from Food and Drink Additives is Exposed" »
These days, itâ€™s common to hear people voicing a sense of hopelessness about their power to influence what is happening in our nation. At the same time, the complaints are somewhat ironic since so many of our fellow citizens do not use the power they do have. For example, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, only sixty-four percent of the eligible population voted in the 2004 presidential election.
You can see the importance of voting if you have been following the debate on the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. NCLB was enacted in 2001 with overwhelming bipartisan support. It was designed to bring every student to proficiency by 2014. It did so by requiring states to administer standardized tests and by punishing schools where scores do not rise.
It has led to an incredible number of problems.
reading "You Can Make a Difference!" »
My work with children brings me into steady contact with parents who are savvy about health issues and keen to provide the best for their families. So I have become accustomed to a scenario that often follows their answering a call on their cell phones. As they start to put the device away, they stop and ask, "By the way, do you know anything about the safety of these things? I've heard a lot of stuff but I just don't know."
If you are one of those parents, there is a new website that you will find to be an invaluable resource--for understanding not only cell phones but the many other electrical devices that pervade our lives. It is http://www.bioinitiative.org and it offers the BioInitiative Report.
Don't be put off by the title which has a lot of heavy sounding multi-syllable words ( A Rationale for a Biologically-based Public Exposure Standard for Electromagnetic Fields). It has been designed to contain a section specifically aimed at the general public. Here is some of the opening material from that section:
reading "Your Cell Phone! Have You Been Wondering About How Safe It Is?" »
Those were the frightening words used by Susan Goodkin and David Gold in their Washington Post article describing the way No Child Left Behind--the new educational law of the land--is leaving gifted children behind. They document the steady bleeding of the best and the brightest students from public schools as their parents place them in private schools.
Their actions are easy to understand. The new law essentially forces teachers to focus their efforts on bringing the lowest students to minimum proficiency. Just by itself, the ensuing neglect of the brightest students represents a massive problem. But things are even worse.
reading ""Disastrous Consequences of No Child Left Behind"" »
If you're from Australia, the title of this piece is likely to make you feel right at home. Otherwise, you're probably at a loss. But as you will see, like many of its kind, this metaphor succinctly captures a central theme.
It was introduced to me by colleagues with whom I was working "down under." They wanted me to understand their social dynamics and they felt that this expression would go a long way towards that goal. In a few words, it taps directly into the strong egalitarian streak in Australian society. That's where the tall poppies come in.
reading "Are We Cutting Down the Tall Poppies?" »
Parents frequently try to get their children to read by telling them â€œhow goodâ€ that activity is for them. Of course, children arenâ€™t much influenced by the message. They see it primarily as a â€œsell jobâ€ to get them to do something they do not want to do.
But now a study of lead smelter workers provides evidence that what the parents have been saying actually has merit.
reading "Reading Protects the Brain! It Really IS Good For You" »
When Mark Twain was writing his masterpieces, the term attention deficit disorder (ADD) did not exist. Nevertheless, his Tom Sawyer creation was an ideal candidate for this category. And the difficulties he forced his Aunt Polly to deal with are much like those that today's parents confront.
Happily, parents can now breathe a well-earned sigh of relief. For years, the focus has been on the dire outcomes that loom in these kids' future. The typical report stressed how adolescence was likely to bring delinquency, drugs, alcohol and other woes. But the results of a recently completed three year study at Columbia University show that most children treated for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder improve greatly within a few years.
reading "Nice News for Parents of the Tom Sawyers of the World" »
Many years ago, when I was a student in England, Europeans typically looked with envy at the American students. They stood out in any crowd because they were so tall and slim. Now several decades later, all that has changed and changed dramatically.
Two historians John Komlos and Benjamin Lauderdale have recently come out with a paper showing that while Americans were the "tallest in the world between colonial times and the middle of the 20th century,...we have now â€œbecome shorter (and fatter) than Western and Northern Europeans. In fact, the U.S. population is currently at the bottom end of the height distribution in advanced industrial countries."
Height is a significant barometer of the health of a population.
reading "America Comes Up Short" »
Parents of children in special education know well that if their children are to get the best services possible, they have to become strong and effective advocates. If you are in that group, you may be interested in COPAA, the Conference of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, that will be presented from March 1-4, 2007, in Baltimore, Maryland. It is focused on developments in the law, advocacy training, and strategic approaches to planning that meet government regulations. You can learn more about this important topic at http://specialedlaw.blogs.com/home/
Welcome to my new blog where I will be posting news about my reading program, as well as other education news and sites that I think are exciting. The vision that guides my work is that every child can be a successful reader and writer and I will do everything I can to bring parents and educators the news and information they need so that this vision can become a reality. I'll let you know what's new on the site, and also point you to advice and information that our users of the program have been providing me about ways to enhance the use of the Phonics Plus Five.