How Reading to Children Impacts Their Lives.

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“The sun did not shine, it was too wet to play.
So we sat in the house all that cold, cold, wet day.
 I sat there with Sally. We sat there, we two.
And I said, ‘How I wish we had something to do!’”

These are the immortal opening lines from Dr. Seuss’ classic book, The Cat in the HatHaving read these lines thousands of times to my three children, at one time I had virtually the whole book memorized! I used to love reading and rereading the story of the mischievous feline, doing voices and intonations and asking questions as I went along. Of course, the major question is, “would you have let the cat into the house?” Reading The Cat in the Hat was clearly as much fun for me as it was for my kids and now my grandkids.

The value of reading to young children cannot be overemphasized. Many studies over the past 20 years show that spending time reading to preschool children is vital for boosting low-income children’s vocabularies, language development, sound awareness, and letter recognition abilities. According to the National Center for Education Statistics data, only 20 percent of 4-year-olds in poverty can recognize all 26 letters, compared with 37 percent of their peers at or above the poverty level.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children introduced to reading early in life tend to read earlier and excel in school compared to children who are not exposed to language and books at a young age. Developing early literacy skills makes it easier for children to learn to read. Children who enter school with these skills have an advantage that carries with them throughout their school years. However, more than 1 in 3 American children enter Kindergarten without the skills they need to learn to read.

Unfortunately, the ability to meaningfully read to children is not an innate talent. “Everyone feels like they know how to read a book to children,” says Karen Stoiber, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, “but in reality, many parents and teachers need coaching on how to ask questions as they go along to emphasize rhyming and to teach children how to follow words on the page.” Indeed, the process of coaching parents to help their child’s cognitive development should be part of a comprehensive educational process beginning in the prenatal period. Learning how to read to your child is an important part of this process.

One effective method for coaching parents in literacy development is Educare. EduCare is a maternal and child health program designed exclusively for health, language and literacy development. The solution delivers personalized guidance via mobile device to women or caregivers throughout pregnancy and baby’s early childhood through age 8.

Along with literacy development, EduCare also guides mom in:

  • Learning progression
  • Physical health
  • Psychological wellness
  • Emotional support
  • Social skills and peer engagement

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To learn more about EduCare visit: http://www.gomohealth.com/educare/

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8 Good Reasons to Walk

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Staying in shape can be difficult, but it’s something that everyone should do to ensure their health. However, you don’t need to join a gym or run five kilometers every day. Regular walks can be enough to improve your health and keep you fit. The health benefits of walking regularly are numerous.

Aside from improving your mental and cardiovascular health, as well as aiding in weight loss, walking regularly can just be a great way to get some fresh air into your lungs and get some much-needed vitamin D from direct sunlight. Even just getting out of your home and moving around can be enough to improve your mood and well-being.

These are eight benefits of walking that you may experience if you walk even just 30 minutes each day, you’ll start to experience improvements in your physical and mental health. Walking is recommended by the Mayo Clinic as a low impact exercise, and it is bound to benefit you in the following ways:

1. Improves mental health: One of the main benefits of walking is that it can improve your mood. According to the Mayo Clinic, walking can help improve symptoms of depression and anxiety.

2. Effectively aids in weight loss: Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that walking regularly can reduce the effects of 32 obesity-promoting genes in the human body.

3. Decreases the risk of certain cancers: Two studies from the American Society for Clinical Oncology showed that walking three hours a week can reduce the risk of dying from breast or bowel cancer by half.

4. Helps to boost your immune system: Walking at least 30 minutes a day was shown to increase the level of cells in the body’s immune system in a study done at Appalachian State University in North Carolina.

5. Can be effective in preventing diabetes: The American Diabetes Association states that “aerobic exercise helps your body use insulin better,” and this can include a daily brisk walk after meals.

6. Reduces cravings for sweets and the need for “stress eating”: Studies from the University of Exeter found that walking for just 15 minutes can help to curb cravings for sugary foods. It was also found to reduce cravings during stressful situations.

7. Highly benefits cardiovascular health: One of the benefits of walking is promoting heart health. A study from the Harvard Medical School found that walking roughly 20 minutes a day can reduce the risk of heart disease by 30%.

8. Helps with mobility into advanced age: A study by the American Medical Association concluded that one of the greatest benefits of walking is that it promoted better physical health in people aged 70 to 89. Those who got regular exercise in their younger years dramatically decreased their chances of having any physical disability.

Child Literacy in the US

Improving Literacy in the US

Did you know that only about one third of American fourth-graders are proficient in reading? By fourth grade, if children can’t read at grade level, they’re unlikely to ever catch up.

The outcome is even more alarming if the struggling readers happen to be among the 16 million children living in poverty across America, whose only hope at a brighter future is through education. Half of all low-income fourth-graders score below basic levels on U.S. literacy assessments. And yet, more than 60% of low-income families can’t afford to have books in their homes.

Rethinking Child Literacy in the US

We know that fostering a love of learning early on is key to ensuring our children’s success in school and life. That’s why we are piloting effective school-based programs to disadvantaged students in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. Our literacy program and expanded reading curriculum help children from kindergarten through third grade stay on track developmentally and grow as readers and learners.

Why Steve Jobs Didn’t Let His Kids Use iPads!

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Steve Jobs was the father of two teenage girls and a son when he passed away in 2011. These kids grew up with a visionary father who co-founded one of the best-known tech companies. Jobs led the world into the digital age with gadgets that transformed the way we listen to music, watch movies, communicate, live our lives.

You would imagine that his children’s rooms would have been filled with iPods, iPhones and iPads.

That’s not the case. In an article in the Sunday New York Times, reporter Nick Bilton says he once asked Jobs “So, your kids must love the iPad?” Jobs response: “They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”

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The Times article examines the growing trend among the California Silicon Valley tech set to limit children’s technology use. Many of the people behind the social media platforms, gadgets and games that are consuming our kids’ time and minds aren’t actually allowing their own children to waste an entire Saturday afternoon playing Minecraft on the iPad.

A quote in The Times from Chris Anderson, father of five and chief executive of 3D Robotics, pretty much defines why Anderson and his colleagues are limiting technology at home. “My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists and overly concerned about tech, and they say that none of their friends have the same rules,” says Anderson, formerly the editor of Wired. “That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids.”

Some of these Silicon Valley engineers and execs are even going to the extreme of sending their kids to computer-free schools. A Times story from 2011 reported that engineers and execs from Apple, eBay, Google, Hewlett-Packard and Yahoo are sending their kids to a Waldorf elementary school in Los Altos, Calif., where you won’t find a single computer or screen of any sort. Also, kids are discouraged from watching television or logging on at home.

Alan Eagle, who works in executive communications at Google and has a degree in computer science from Dartmouth, has a fifth grader who attends the school and he told the Times that she “doesn’t know how to use Google.”

The thinking is that technology interferes with creativity and young minds learn best through movement, hands-on tasks, and human-to-human interaction. Students at this school are gaining math, patterning, and problem-solving skills by knitting socks. They aren’t exposed to fractions through a computer program. Instead they learn about halves and quarters by cutting up food.

Are you surprised by any of this? Bilton certainly was when he had that conversation with Jobs in 2010. Bilton spoke with the Apple boss many times and says learning that Jobs was a low-tech parent was the most shocking bit of information that he ever heard. Shocking for me too…and now I wonder is tech good or bad at such a young age…my grand daughter is already an iPad expert.