Tag Archives: reading

Motivating Children by Developing a Growth Mindset

kumon-growth

By: The Kumon Team

“Motivation is the most important factor in determining whether you succeed in the long run. What I mean by motivation is not only the desire to achieve, but also the love of learning, the love of challenge, and the ability to thrive on obstacles. These are the greatest gifts we can give our students.” – Carol Dweck

Parents often ask how they can help their child become more motivated to learn, especially material that is above grade level. Stanford University Professor of Psychology, Carol Dweck demonstrates that communication to children about their effort, successes, and setbacks often shapes a child’s mindset and motivation.

Here is how it works:

–The author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dweck postulates that people have either a “fixed mindset” or “growth mindset” that influences our perspective and communication.
–When we believe that success is based on innate ability, we are said to have a fixed theory of intelligence, otherwise known as a fixed mindset.
–When we believe that success is based on hard work, learning, and perseverance, we are said to have a growth theory of intelligence, also called growth mindset.

Parents and Instructors are most effective when they praise effort and results equally. Praising effort means recognizing errors as learning opportunities that lead to improvement and success. The brain is a muscle that becomes stronger through hard work and learning from our mistakes. We can motivate children to develop a growth mindset and achieve their goals through communication about effort, learning, and persistence.

“I’ve got to have a growth mindset, man. That’s what it’s about, me still trying to improve even at 30 and (after) 12 years in the league.” – LeBron James

Interested in Kumon’s programs? Check out all available NYC programs and locations here!

The Harvest of Your Child’s Education

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By: The Kumon Team

With the arrival of October, many families have thoughts of pumpkins, trick-or-treating and Thanksgiving just around the corner. For the colonial founders of America, this time of year was harvest time, or the time for reaping the ripened fruits of their labor from the spring and summer. The same sentiment is still present, especially in the minds of high school seniors as they begin preparing their college applications this autumn. After years of hard work and studying, these students will soon reap their rewards through exceptional SATs scores and early acceptance letters from top universities across the country.

Although your children may be a long way away from applying to colleges, remember the long-term benefits of the Kumon Program. For example, the daily routine of Kumon homework helps remind your children that success is a step by step process and can be achieved by working hard each day. In addition, the confidence that the Kumon Program builds in your children helps encourage them to tackle new challenges, such as joining the debate team or striving to make the honor roll.

The Kumon Program requires diligent practice and commitment by both students and parents to attain academic success.  As Kumon Students, your children will learn to commit to completing Kumon homework on a daily basis, understanding it will help them to achieve their long-term academic goals.

Kumon has convenient locations around New York City. Visit the Kidz Central Station website to find the location nearest to you, and to learn about how the Kumon Program helps children reap a bountiful harvest later in their academic careers.

Interested in Kumon’s programs? Check out all available NYC programs and locations here!

An Important Milestone: Reading Proficiency in the Third Grade

Kumon_GroupBy: The Kumon Team

Reading proficiently by the end of third grade is considered one of the most important benchmarks in a student’s academic journey. Students who are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade start falling behind in their knowledge and comprehension across all subjects. This effect “snowballs” as these students often fall further behind each year.

This is significant because the national average percentage of public school students reading proficiently in the beginning of fourth grade was only 34% in 2013. The other 66% of students are considered basic readers, and are four times more likely to drop out of high school. This finding comes from research conducted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which linked factors in students who drop out of high school. Many states have cited this report when making changes to their educational policies.

The Kumon Reading Program strengthens students’ reading abilities by building many essential literacy components such as vocabulary, grammar, and comprehension. It’s important for students to read often and be exposed to a variety of genres to maintain reading proficiency throughout school. Getting into good study habits and developing strong reading skills as early as possible sets an important foundation for school success. Studying ahead of grade level enables Kumon students to read proficiently and be confident in their reading abilities.

Interested in Kumon’s reading program? Check out all available NYC programs and locations here!

Why Reading Aloud to Children from Birth is SO Important

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Reading aloud to children is a critical part of the learning process, one that will help them develop the vocabulary and skills necessary to read on their own. In fact, a recent New York Times article discussed the announcement of a new policy from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) which stresses the importance of read-aloud time for infants and their parents. The AAP now urges parents to read aloud to their children from infancy to help build the pre-literacy skills needed for preschool and kindergarten. Studies have shown that children who have developed these pre-literacy skills tend to have larger vocabularies than students without them. Similarly, students with advanced pre-literacy skills perform better academically once they enter elementary school.

The new policy encourages reading, as well as talking and singing, to help increase the number of words children hear during their first few years. The article also suggests that reading should be a fun, daily family activity from infancy on.

While this new policy by the AAP is a recent development, the importance of early childhood education and the development of pre-literacy skills is a crucial concept that has been ingrained within the Kumon Program and the teachings of Toru Kumon. Toru Kumon promoted this idea of reading and developing pre-literacy skills at an early age with the phrase “reading before the age of three.”

In an essay written by Toru Kumon it states, “Children can easily learn to read before the age of three if you have children listen to songs and read to them.” Through the memorization of songs, children can increase their vocabularies and develop the ability to learn by heart, which in turn helps form the basis for self-learning. By exposing children to songs and books at an early age, parents can provide them with opportunities to build their familiarity with reading and help increase their vocabularies. In doing so, children also develop their abilities to think actively while listening to stories and picture the scenes described. By singing songs to your children and reading aloud to them, you can help strengthen their pre-literacy skills and prepare them for their academic futures.

How Exposure to Literature Develops Essential Reading Skills

By: The Kumon Staff

The Kumon Reading Program aims to cultivate a high level of reading ability while introducing a variety of literature to children. Whether the stories are authored by Maurice Sendak or William Shakespeare, the excerpts featured in the books’ worksheets are intended to provoke thought and imagination. In his autobiography, Give It a Try, Toru Kumon said, “I believe that the ability to think is developed by reading books.” By encouraging a love of books early, parents can help their children develop inquisitive minds full of purpose and imagination.

As Kumon students progress through the various levels of the reading program, they enhance their reading abilities by moving from words to sentences to paragraphs and longer passages. The Kumon Method develops academic ability, as well as the mindset and skills needed for students to become critical thinkers. Through continual study and practice, children develop skills that lead to critical thinking. As they reach more advanced levels in the program, they begin developing summary and critique skills.

As students progress into the higher levels of the Kumon Reading Program, they are challenged to look closely at the context of a passage and develop an understanding of the writer’s intention. The ability to observe text closely and discover the subtle meaning in words is an essential part of students’ growth and development. Through the program they’ll develop reading skills that will enable them to become even more thoughtful and inquisitive people. Ultimately, these skills can lead to success in whichever path in life our students decide to take.

To learn more about Kumon’s programs in NYC, click here!
Enjoy 50% off reading program registration, a $25 value, when you contact your local Kumon Center for an orientation before March 31st.

The Great E-Book Debate

The recent New York Times article “Is E-Reading to Your Toddler Story Time or Simply Screen Time?” asked provocative questions about the impact of reading e-books to children under two years old. With the e-book industry growing in leaps and bounds, and more and more titles becoming available all the time, many parents assume that if it’s available on the market it must be good for kids. We owe it to ourselves and especially to our children to consider the possible implications of our practices. Ultimately, we need to ask as a community how e-reading is shaping the experience of young readers.

Boy ReadingThe article captured the crux of the dilemma. On the one hand, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that children should not have screen time before they’re two. The AAP also says we should read to our children every day. It makes you wonder, do e-books count as “books” or screen time? More importantly, when we read e-books rather than printed books are we nurturing or impeding reading development?

There are no easy answers, as the current research lags behind practice. So it will be years before we begin to articulate impacts on lifelong reading behaviors. A 2013 study of children age three to five at Temple University, however, determined that individuals whose parents read e-books had lower reading comprehension than those who read traditional books. Temple researchers cited “dialogic reading,” or the back and forth text discussion between adult and child, as a factor contributing to reading success. The article also referred to the work of Patricia Kuhl, a director at the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington, whose research compared language learning in nine-month-old babies when taught by adults vs. DVDs. The DVDs had no impact on learning, while the teachers made lasting impacts.

Where does all this quasi-information leave us as parents and educators? We need to ask ourselves, what am I really teaching when I read to a child, in particular a child under two? Am I mindfully pulling together the building blocks of reading comprehension? Only partially. As a mother of three boys now 12, 13, and 15, and an early childhood educator, my reading goals were twofold: to pass on a lust for literature and develop a loving relationship between us.

There’s no better way than reading to your child to give them a varied and colorful vocabulary, a deep interest in story and ideas, and to build empathy with characters and people. And this covers reading no matter what the medium. If you want a curious child you need to model curiosity yourself and what better way than through sharing a text? The close physical bond of cuddling together over a book (or e-book) sets the groundwork for deep affection. Set aside the guilt. Am I reading enough? Am I reading the right books? And now, am I reading with the right tool? Sharing the wonder is sharing the wonder. Intellectual companionship begins at birth, a child and an adult learning side by side and enjoying the marvels of the world together. Let’s give the research more time to unfold before we start beating ourselves up as we enjoy (e)reading to our kids.

8 Reasons to Read to Your Child Early On

mom readingAs Mayor De Blasio’s Pre-k initiative gets off the ground in New York City, the impact of early learning is becoming increasingly apparent. According to reading specialist Maryanne Wolf, “Learning to read begins the first time an infant is held and read a story.” She also adds that the more talking children hear and the more they are read to, the more words they experience and the more prepared they are for school learning. While many parents know that reading to their kids is important, they aren’t clued into its specific benefits. Here are eight important reasons to read to your child early on:

Expansion of world view. In books (and in conversations) children are exposed to new ideas—they visit far away places, see new things, feel new feelings, and go on cognitive and emotional adventures.

Object identification. Vision, perception, and language work together to connect an object with a word, and then children develop memories of what they’ve seen. Books increase their scopes of reference.

Everything has a name. It is easy for adults to forget that infants and toddlers don’t know a fork is called a fork, a tree is called a tree, and so on. When we talk to children we name their world and expand their universe of concepts. Books do an even better job of catapulting this process through image and story.

Connection between text and image. Beautiful images encourage focus, questioning, and the drive to know more; children begin to use pictures to prompt letter and word recognition, connections with characters, and sequencing skills.

The delight of literary language. The pairing of powerful images with evocative literary language helps to develop children’s minds. Growing up hearing older and/or more complex language allows children to develop an ever-expanding universe of words.

Phonological development. As children hear language they begin to identify different sounds, and learn to connect starting and ending sounds and make rhymes.

Book sense. Experience handling books teaches children the logic of how texts work physically, the direction in which the home language is read, and the rhythm of turning pages.

Letters make words and words make sentences. Children who are read to begin to understand the building blocks of the reading process. They recognize each letter as an object with a sound, each word as a small picture, and multiple words coming together as a sentence with meaning.

Beyond these eight important reasons, reading is just another way to bond with your child. So encourage more talk at home, in your kids’ classes, and in infant and toddler learning centers, so we can expand the minds of these early learners.

When Does Literacy Begin?

We know children pick up language starting from birth—they hear our conversations, they repeat our words, and then words turn into sentences. But when does literacy really begin?

Literacy begins the first day you bring your baby home and starts with the process of language development. This is displayed through body language and signals your baby uses to communicate. To foster this communication further, parents should speak to their babies frequently as they interpret cues and focus on different kinds of communication.

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In the last ten years, neuroscientists have done tremendous research on infant brain development and identified areas of the brain responsible for different functions. Here is a quick and easy overview:

Wernicke’s area: Located in the temporal lobe and plays a critical role in the ability to understand meaningful speech.

To develop this area, speak to your baby in whole language (use short complete sentences) and read to him or her daily, as reading helps develop listening skills, language skills, speech patterns, and memory. Age appropriate music with rhythm is another great way to develop of this area of the brain. Not only does music help with language, it also introduces other cultures and teaches infants how to follow directions—like the song “If You’re Happy and You Know It” (clap your hands!).

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Broca’s area: Located in the frontal lobe of the brain and controls the production of spoken and written language.

Once your infant is mobile, place a bin of interactive picture books on the floor within reach, so your baby has the opportunity to expand his or her vocabulary. Make sure to interact with your baby while he or she flips through pages, but also give him or her time to play with books and toys alone.

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Temporal lobe: Located above the ears and responsible for hearing, speech, and some learning and memory.

Infants and toddlers love repetition! This is because it’s how they start to understand what you’re saying and what words mean. To encourage temporal lobe development, repeat the words to a favorite song frequently over a period of time, and you’ll see that your child will start to know what comes next and develop important memory skills.

When babies are born their brains are 25% developed, and by the time they are five years old development is at 95%! So focusing on developing these three areas of the brain between birth and age three is crucial in order to avoid problems later on.

By Daseta Gray, an educator with over 20 years experience. She consults for Sabree Education Services. Read her previous posts here.

The Best Kept Secret for Kindergarten Readiness

So what’s the best kept secret for kindergarten readiness? Are you ready? It’s only one word. Not only is it a word you know, but it’s a word many people don’t talk about anymore. It’s an “L” word . . .

LIBRARY! You know, the place in almost every town and city in the U.S. where you can borrow books for free! A place where someone else will occupy and entertain your child at no cost by reading them a story or two and even doing some crafts. A place where you can sit on a rainy day and enjoy time with your child while exploring every type of book known to man (without costing you a penny!).

Kindergarten teacher reading to children in library

The library has always been, and will always be, one of my favorite places on earth. I suspect this is true because my own mother brought me to the library every single Wednesday from the time I was three years old. It served as a foundation for my education—starting with kindergarten readiness—and was a place I carried with me throughout my childhood. I remember it vividly. We kept a basket in our kitchen for all of the library books we finished so that they didn’t fall into the “black hole” of our house and get mixed up with the books we personally owned. Going to the library for my family was as natural as getting gas for our car. In my mother’s mind, we were getting fuel for our brains and imaginations. I remember the library tables with the slanted tops, the special little chairs and step stools, and the shelves and shelves of endless books. I remember that by the time I was four years old I was getting lost in wonderful places just like Max in Where the Wild Things Are and going on adventures with my favorite little monkey, Curious George. I always wanted to be the Man in the Yellow Hat. He seemed to have so much fun with George!

As I got older, I graduated to chapter books in the young reader’s section, pouring over countless biographies of inspirational people like Betsy Ross and Jackie Robinson. Great authors such as Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary were waiting for me and I was thrilled! The library soon became a place where I would do research for school papers and many, many book reports over the years. Eventually, I was old enough to be dropped off with my friends, and a trip to the library would entail homework and a walk to the candy store. The library grew up with me.

Give your children the same experience and bring them to the library today. Did you know that your child is eligible to have his or her very own library card at five years old? This was a huge right of passage for my own children when their fifth birthdays rolled around. They thought it was the greatest thing in the world that they had their own “credit cards”! Routinely taking your children to the library when they’re young will better prepare them for kindergarten—and for life. More than any workbook, educational website, or iPad game. They will learn responsibility and consideration for others, and they’ll expand their imaginations, engage in a productive and meaningful activity, and best of all . . . spend quality time with you.

What could be better before sending them off to kindergarten?

Keep Your Kids Reading During The Summer!!

Our kids work so hard all year, let’s keep it up over the summer. As an educator, I have been making this statement for years, but now it is my turn to do the work with my son. Here are few questions to ask youself to get ready for the summer!

Is your library organized?
If your children can’t find books they like, they will not read! I organized my son’s books using baskets and put them into categories.  It takes a short amount of time and it is totally worth it!!!!

Library

Do you know what your child’s reading level is?
The best way to find out your child’s reading level is to ask his or her teacher, or have a reading specialist perform an evaluation. Once the reading level is determined, make a basket of books that your child can read to you, or on his or her own! Tip: to find books at his or her level you can use Scholastic book wizard, or a great app called Level it!

Leveled Library

What time will you read with your child or will her or she read independently?
Set a specific time to read everyday!  I usually like to read with my children before bedtime. First, I have my son read me a leveled book and then I let him choose a book that I will read to him.

DAD READING WITH CHILD

Do you know that reading is all around you?
Make sure you use your neighborhood and all around your house to read!!!  Your child can read you signs, labels, lists, game titles. This is a great way to learn sight words and use them in a real life setting!

Sign

Lauren Bernstein is the executive director of Lauren’s Little Learners in Livingston, NJ. She specializes in individualized instruction for students ages 3-10 in in reading and writing.