When anything bad happens we can usually count on one thing to make us feel better…chocolate. After all, there’s nothing like a good candy bar or pain au chocolat to comfort us in times of trouble. But what happens when the cruel world decides to target our chocolate supply? Continue reading
Most parents know that reading bedtime stories to preschoolers is key to developing early literacy. But new research with low-income children by psychologists suggests it takes more than nightly reading to foster a child’s future reading success.
Parents, teachers and others who read to children must also engage young children with lively, enthusiastic recitations that bring characters and plots to life, and pose open-ended questions that spark children’s comprehension, vocabulary and interest.
Such reading-aloud extras, say researchers, are as important as regular teeth-brushing for children ages 4 and 5 because they can be the difference between a child who picks up reading easily and one who struggles when he or she reaches kindergarten.
“Everyone feels like they know how to read a book to children,” says Karen Stoiber, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, who directs the EMERGE project, a reading intervention she’s conducting with Milwaukee’s Head Start program. 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.
Numerous studies over the last decade show that such strategies are vital for boosting low-income children’s vocabularies, language development, sound awareness and letter recognition abilities—all building blocks for early literacy. According to 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.
Stoiber and other psychologists are including such coaching as part of interventions proven to improve pre-reading skills among low-income preschoolers. One of the best ways to boost these children’s literacy is by helping teachers and parents maximize the time they spend reading with their children, says Jorge E. Gonzalez, PhD, of Texas A&M University, a U.S. Department of Education-funded researcher who studies oral language and literacy development.
“Children who start school with a poor vocabulary rarely catch up,” says Gonzalez. “The bottom line is there is not a lot of room for error on this issue.”
New research finds curious kids achieve greater success in school, regardless of their socioeconomic status. Plenty of parents will tell you that one of the most annoying questions to come out of their kids’ mouths is “Why?”
There’s a stage nearly every child goes through, when it becomes their response to almost everything — even your answer to the last time they asked the question.
It can be exhausting, particularly when you don’t actually know the answer to whatever it is they’re currently questioning. Why is the sky blue? Does anyone actually know?
But take heart, parents. All those “whys” could pay off in a big way for your little one down the line.
Pediatric Research recently published a study linking curiosity to academic achievement. The study involved direct assessments given to 6,200 kindergarten students, as well as parent-reported behavioral questionnaires. The results yielded a correlation between curiosity and greater academic achievement in reading and math.
The study’s findings may help ease the minds of many modern parents, particularly in light of a 2016 poll that found over 50 percent of parents with kids under the age of 18 placed their children’s academic performance as being among their top three parenting concerns.
But if curiosity is the key to academic success, can curiosity be fostered, or is it an innate trait?
Lead researcher Dr. Prachi Shah believes it’s a little bit of both. She explains, “I think we can align experiences with a child’s innate passions, and in that way, we can cultivate their interests and their engagement in topics that can help foster early learning.”
The new study gives her hope that cultivating curiosity can help improve academic performance throughout their lives.
Good teachers find ways to connect what the students are learning to things that matter to them. An easy way to do this is to give them part of the whole picture, and then provide ways for students to put the pieces together themselves. Even though it can be tricky, students feel a greater sense of accomplishment when they figure stuff out on their own.
Dr. Shah thinks a lot of it also has to do with teaching to a child’s specific interests. “Kids can be curious about one topic, but not another,” she explains. “For both parents and educators, it’s really about discovering what a child’s individual passions are. What’s driving their interest? If a child feels they can play an active part in making a decision about what they are pursuing, that helps them to be more invested in what they’re learning.”
The weather has a significant influence on almost one-third of the world’s buying everyday. “The old paradigm of business and weather was cope and avoid,” says The Weather Channel’s vice president for weather analytics. “With [big data] technology, the paradigm is now anticipate and exploit.”
The Weather Channel (TWC) is an American basic channel and satellite television company, owned by a consortium made up of Blackstone Group, Bain Capital, and NBCUniversal located in Atlanta, Georgia.
The channel has broadcast weather forecasts and weather-related news and analysis, along with documentaries and entertainment programming related to weather since 1982.
TWC provides numerous customized forecasts for online users through its website, weather.com, including home and garden, and event planning forecasts. Third-party web analytics providers Alexa and SimilarWeb rated the site as the 146th and 244th most visited website in the world respectively, as of July 2015. SimilarWeb rated the site as the most visited weather website globally, attracting more than 126 million visitors per month.
That massive web traffic is exactly how The Weather Channel has turned ‘Big Data’ into a completely new business.
TWC is before all a technology platform operator, which developed an extremely high-volume data platform, collecting and analyzing data from 3 billion weather forecast reference points, more than 40 million smartphones and 50,000 airplane flights per days, and serves 65 billion unique access to weather data each day.
TWC collects terabytes of data everyday and uses it not only to predict the weather in millions of locations, but also to predict what consumers in those locations will buy.
In a very savvy move TWC married more than 75 years’ worth of weather data with aggregated consumer purchasing data. For example, air-conditioners sales increases during hot weather, but folks in Atlanta suffer three days longer than people in Chicago before running out to buy one. Such analysis has created a whole new business for TWC – ‘Selling ads based on big data analytics’.
For example, P&G Pantene and Puffs brands buy ads based on TWC’s weather and consumption analytics. A women checking The Weather Channel app in a humid locale receives an ad for Pantene Pro-V Smooth, a product formulated to tame frizzy hair.
Checking the app again on low humidity day or drier area results in seeing an ad for a volumizing product instead. Similarly, a consumer looking at a high pollen forecast receives an ad for Puffs facial tissues, with the message, “A face in need deserves Puffs indeed.”
Currently, TWC is generating half of the company’s ad revenue to the business using web analytics.
Big data and web analytics helped TWC maintain an extensive online presence at weather.com and through a set of mobile applications for smartphones and tablet computers. These services are now administered by The Weather Channel’s former parent company, The Weather Company, which was sold to IBM in 2016. The Weather Channel continues to license its brand assets and weather data from IBM.
TWC’s case is the epitome of how effective use of big data and web analytics can lead to marketing opportunities. It also demonstrates how today’s big companies can advance through ‘Digital Marketing’ which can also help them to diversify and strengthening their business portfolios.
What Exactly is Yoga?
Yoga has been around for thousands of years. Yoga is a practice that started in India, and is now very popular in the United States and around the world. It has gained a lot of attention lately — maybe because it is a fun and easy way for both adults and kids to feel healthy and happy.
The word “yoga” means “union” in Sanskrit, the ancient language of India. Quite simply, yoga is the “union” or coming together of mind (thoughts and feelings) and physical body. Many people feel an overall sense of well-being when they practice yoga.
There are many aspects to yoga. In short, yoga is a system of physical exercises or postures (called asanas). These asanas build strength, flexibility and confidence. Yoga is also about breathing (called pranayama), which helps calm and refresh the body and mind.
Yoga for Kids
Yoga is about exploring and learning in a fun, safe and playful way. Yoga and kids are a perfect match. Here is what children (and adults!) can learn from yoga:
- Yoga teaches us about our bodies.
When children practice the physical postures or exercises (called asanas), they learn how to move more freely and with greater ease and awareness. These postures help their bodies become strong and flexible.
- Yoga teaches us how to breathe better.
When children breathe deeply and fully (called pranayama) and become more aware, they can bring peacefulness or energy to their bodies.
- Yoga teaches us how to use our energy more effectively.
Yoga helps teach kids how to use the life force energy in their bodies to feel more relaxed, focused, or motivated.
- Yoga teaches us how to quiet the mind.
Yoga teaches kids how to be still. This helps them to listen with attention and make good decisions.
- Yoga teaches us about balance.
Children learn to be more aware about the need for balance in their lives. This could mean equal stretching on the left and right sides of the body or making sure they balance busy time with equal quiet time and relaxation.
- Yoga teaches us about taking care of ourselves.
Yoga is a great way to move your body and feel healthy. And teaching children how to take care of themselves is one way to show love. As with all forms of exercise, a good yoga practice can mean a good night’s sleep!
The beauty of yoga is that children can practice alone, with a friend or with a group. Many schools are now teaching yoga to young children, and there are many choices of after-school or weekend classes for kids and their families. Everyone can enjoy yoga – from tots to great-grandparents.
Professional organizations that focus on children also support the idea behind yoga. For example, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and The National Association of the Education for Young Children (NAEYC) recommend that children should participate in activities that support the development of the whole child. This is exactly what yoga is about.
Just as there is an achievement gap in school performance, there is a school readiness gap that separates disadvantaged children from their more affluent peers. As early as 18 months, low-income children begin to fall behind in vocabulary development and other skills critical for school success. Parents play an enormous role in closing this gap, as do daycare providers, pediatricians, preschools programs, and the broader community.
Research shows that learning begins long before a child enters kindergarten. Children, even infants soak up words, rhymes, songs, and images. Vocabulary development is particularly important. A child’s health, and the timely recognition of developmental delays, is another critical aspect of school readiness. Doctors, care providers, and preschool teachers play a key role.
61 percent of low-income children have no children’s books at home.
Poor children hear as many as 30 million fewer words than their more affluent peers.
By age 2, poor children are already behind their peers in listening, counting, and other skills essential to literacy.
A child’s vocabulary as early as age 3 can predict third grade reading achievement.
By age 5, a typical middle-class child recognizes 22 letters of the alphabet, compared to 9 for a child from a low-income family.
A national study released last week shows that students who do not read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to leave high school without a diploma than proficient readers.
Poverty compounds the problem: Students who have lived in poverty are three times more likely to drop out or fail to graduate on time than their more affluent peers.
- One in six children who are not reading proficiently in third grade do not graduate from high school on time, a rate four times greater than that for proficient readers.
- The rates are highest for the low, below-basic readers: 23 percent of these children drop out or fail to finish high school on time, compared to 9 percent of children with basic reading skills and 4 percent of proficient readers.
- The below-basic readers account for a third of the sample but three-fifths of the students who do not graduate.
- Overall, 22 percent of children who have lived in poverty do not graduate from high school, compared to 6 percent of those who have never been poor. This rises to 32 percent for students spending more than half of the survey time in poverty.
- For children who were poor for at least a year and were not reading proficiently in third grade, the proportion of those who don’t finish school rose to 26 percent. The rate was highest for poor black and Hispanic students, at 31 and 33 percent respectively. Even so the majority of students who fail to graduate are white.
- Even among poor children who were proficient readers in third grade, 11 percent still didn’t finish high school. That compares to 9 percent of subpar third graders who were never poor.
- Among children who never lived in poverty, all but 2 percent of the best third-grade readers graduated from high school on time.
The longitudinal study was conducted by Donald J. Hernandez, a professor of sociology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, and a senior advisor to the Foundation for Child Development. It was commissioned by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The study confirms the link between third grade scores and high school graduation and, for the first time, breaks down the likelihood of graduation by different reading skill levels and poverty experiences.
“These findings suggest we need to work in three arenas: improving the schools where these children are learning to read, helping the families weighed down by poverty and encouraging better federal, state and local policy to improve the lot of both schools and families,” said Hernandez.
The report recommends aligning quality early education programs with the curriculum and standards in the primary grades; paying better attention to health and developmental needs of young children; and providing work training and other programs that will help lift families out of poverty.