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Leaping into reading and learning

standard November 4, 2008 3 responses

Yesterday the Leap Frog corporation invited the Silicon Valley Moms bloggers to a lovely reception at the Four Seasons. We feasted on a mashed potatoes and talked about reading. Well, OK, there was more to it than that. There were tons of fixings for the mashed potatoes.

Kidding! There was more than just idle talking about reading. The wonderful Leap Frog people brought us the esteemed doctor they refer to whenever starting a new project so she could talk to us about the science behind the Leap Frog products.

Did you know that they do things backwards? Instead of deciding on a game, say a hand held video game console, and then figuring out how it can teach kids, they start with a concept they want to teach and then develop the best toy to teach it. I find that to be nothing short of brilliant.

Beyond gleaning fun facts about Leap Frog we also had a deep conversation about reading and how it impacts our children. (Put a bunch of teachers in a room with an expert educator and you can see sparks. It was amazing!) I bet you knew that reading to your kids was important, but do you know why? Studies have shown that reading and talking to your young children directly impacts all of the learning they will do forever. No joke. Kids who are read to often usually become avid readers themselves, and avid readers consistently trump people who are technically considered smarter than them. Basically IQ points don’t matter, reading matters.

Well, reading and lots and lots of talking. If reading is key for the younger grades, it seems that when your child hits the 3rd grade then vocabulary is where it’s at. And that’s where the talking comes in. The more you jabber to your children throughout the day, even when they are little, the more vocabulary insinuates itself into their brains. Describe things you see at the grocery store. Talk about what you read together. Discuss decorations in your neighborhood. It doesn’t matter what you talk about as long as you talk a lot. Those words will be there when they encounter them as they discover more complex text, which is essential when it comes to comprehension.

Funny, the talking thing is not so much a problem for me. I caught myself in the car today jabbering about the slugs that we’d picked up in the garden (Food for the class turtle in case you were wondering.), about the lunch that I’d packed for C, about the traffic report, about the weather, and about a million other little things C kept asking about. Tonight I was conscious of using complex words like “assist” when I was helping her put on her pants. And when we sat down to read a good night story I picked one that was just a bit harder to understand than we usually read. She asked great questions and I was pretty stoked to know that I wasn’t just enjoying a cuddle with my baby, but also helping shape her little mind.

Leap Frog sent us home with some fabulous toys which I will be reviewing on The Lemonade Stand. I’m also going to be working with them on some giveaways, so stay tuned!

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Speaking of The Lemonade Stand, I posted a few reviews over the weekend and I’m working on a new giveaway that’s going up as I type. So head on over to learn about fun water play and shoes that are almost too good to believe.

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3 responses

  • I read an article years ago that stated that something like 75% of the words that we use as an adult we learn by the age of 5. I have spent the last 6 years cramming as many words as I can into my son’s head! I have never “dumbed” down how I speak to him…if he doesn’t understand a word from the context of my sentences, he asks me to explain it and only then do I put it in simpler language for him. I get comments/compliments all the time from teachers and other adults on how well he speaks and what an amazing vocabulary he has – not just “big” words but “big” words used correctly. Yeah for language! (Oh, and we love Leap Frog here…it’s the only video games he owns!)

  • What a nice opportunity!

    I’m seeing the effects of my mom’s instilling a love of reading into me–now into the 4th generation as my 20 month old “g’baby” is demanding books to read (not just eat) and has a very sophisticated use of language for her age.

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